Universities unveil City Region Deal plan to tackle digital skills gap

Launch of Data-Driven Innovation project at Newbattle High

Pupils at Newbattle High School took part in a digital workshop last week to mark the launch of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Data-Driven Innovation initiative.

£661 million initiative

The University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University are spearheading the £661 million data-driven initiative which is set to transform Edinburgh and its surrounding area into the data capital of Europe. It includes plans to train 100,000 people in data skills over the next decade, from computer science specialists to traditional jobs that will increasingly use data.

Data skills

It is estimated that Scotland needs around 13,000 extra workers each year with data skills as the workplace is transformed. The Scottish Government’s Digital Strategy, published in 2017, included plans to tackle this digital skills gap while growing the Scottish economy.

Supercomputing capabilities

Together, the two universities will increase the provision of data science teaching for their students, and support schools and colleges across the region to provide digital skills teaching and training. The region’s supercomputing capabilities will also be strengthened with investment in a data analysis facility, which will help 1,000 organisations use data to innovate within their sectors.

Economic growth

Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice Principal, University of Edinburgh, said: “We are working not just in our universities, but also with schools, colleges and businesses so people have the opportunities to develop data skills across their life-course. This could include young people about to enter the workforce, women returning after career breaks, or people looking to reskill in mid-career. We know that data-driven innovation will bring economic growth - we want that growth to be inclusive and open to all.”

World class hub

The pioneering new Digital Centre of Excellence at Newbattle High School is the result of a unique partnership between Midlothian Council and the University of Edinburgh. Designed as a world class hub of innovation, the new school aims to transform learning and teaching, equipping young people with the real life skills they will need to support the digital and data economy of the future. Activities within the centre of excellence are also closely aligned with the Data-Driven Innovation programme.

Quality teaching and learning

Midlothian Council’s cabinet member for education, Councillor Jim Muirhead welcomed the collaboration. “Our ambition is to create a world class education system for our children and young people that provides them with the real life skills they will need throughout their lives,” said Councillor Muirhead. “The new school provides staff and students with the tools needed to access the highest quality teaching and learning. Pupils are also be able to see how digital technology relates to the curriculum, to future jobs and the development of specialist skills."

£1.3bn City Region Deal

The £1.3bn Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal was announced by the Prime Minister and First Minister at the University of Edinburgh on 7 August. It aims to drive growth for everyone across the area and includes investment in transport, housing, culture and skills and employability.

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26 Sep 2018