Demand for data scientists soars as Data Lab MSc grows

DataIQ News

Scottish businesses are continuing to embrace candidates with data science skills - and are willing to pay for the privilege, too - with The Data Lab MSc aiming to attract the biggest ever intake of students from across the country for next year's intake.

The Data Lab MSc, a collaboration between The Data Lab and eleven Scottish universities, is open for applications for 2018/19 and will see 155 students funded for their course, representing a 400% increase from its first cohort funded in 2015/16.

With data science expected to contribute £20bn to Scotland's economy by 2020, the organisers claim the increase in Data Lab MSc places is a direct result of higher demand for data science and engineering skills across a range of sectors in Scotland as well as a jump in the number of people interested in a career path in data science.

Students from the 2017/18 intake are now undertaking their placements with Scottish-based organisations such as the Scottish Government, Wood Mackenzie, V-Ships UK, RBS, Standard Life and Merkle Aquila.

The number of student placements has risen by 50% from the previous cohort in 2016/17.

New courses added this year include two at Heriot-Watt University and MSc Fintech at Stirling and Strathclyde Universities. The Data Lab MSc is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and the European Social Fund.

As a key aspect of the Data Lab MSc, students from universities across Scotland come together for The Data Lab Innovation Challenge. It is one of the ways that students get the opportunity to put their skills into practice, collaborate, share knowledge and connect with Scottish-based organisations.

Over 100 MSc students attended the five-day event two weeks ago in Glasgow and worked on real data problems shared by the likes of Heineken, ScotRail and Tesco.

The Data Lab skills lead Joshua Ryan-Saha said: "The continued increase in the number of funded students and university courses for the upcoming year is proof that data science is booming and companies are desperately looking for smart data scientists. The Data Lab MSc programme enables students to develop their technical skills, form a network with their peers and match their ability with Scottish organisation to drive growth of the Scottish economy."

University of Stirling student John Bell, who is coming to the end of his Data Lab MSc, said: "It is a great course with lots of hands-on learning. It is about more than just gaining technical skills and knowledge, but also about people, collaboration, supporting others and building relationships in what is a burgeoning data science scene in Scotland. It has been a great year and I feel very positive about my future career and believe the course will help me work with an organisation that unlocks the power of data to effect positive social impact."