Scotland’s new Government-funded Data Lab is to coordinate a new master of science (MSc) degree in an attempt to bridge what it has identified as a serious UK skills shortage in the data science space.

Launched as a collaboration between three Scottish universities - Robert Gordon University, The University of Dundee, and The University of Stirling – scholarships will be offered to 40 candidates from Scotland and the EU (but not England and Wales) to study for the Data Lab  MSc from the 2015/16 academic year.

Image: The Data Lab
Image: The Data Lab

The MSc will be run by each institution with funding from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) with the Data Lab's industry partners complementing the programme with seminars and workshops, the organisation said.

“We also aim to involve industry partners in the practical side of the programs, in the form of placements and/or industrial dissertation projects, in order to facilitate hands-on experience for students,” said the announcement.

The Data Lab referenced a study by the Tech Partnership and SAS UK reporting that 77 percent of data science positions were proving difficult to fill. The shortage that is already biting will only get worse – jobs in the sector are expected to reach 56,000 by 2020.

One issue is that the Data Lab’s remit, and that of the MSc itself, is aimed Scotland alone when the skills shortage is being felt across the UK as a whole. Longer term, the scope of the problem might require broader UK-wide initiatives.

The Data Lab began work in October 2014 with £11.3 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council and the job of supporting the use of emerging data science in Scotland.

The MSc programme has its own web page.

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