Borders College

An innovative partnership programme funded through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is benefitting students across the region, by allowing not only full-time students to learn about Data Driven Innovation (DDI) but also those who are unemployed or facing redundancy.

A group of unemployed individuals are developing data literacy skills online, and meet up with their tutor on a weekly basis for support and advice. This pilot group is learning about Data Citizenship, Data Science, Information Technology Skills and Communication. The group will complete their course in December, with the hope that they will have the skills to gain employment in an increasingly competitive and changing jobs market.

The digital technology and data revolution has put data at the core of many things, from personal privacy to public health, wealth creation to environmental protection. This is particularly important for employers, whether large or small businesses, public sector organisations or charities, because using data to create or improve products and services is key to unlocking economic growth and job creation.

By moving to more and more digital solutions and using data to update business models, organisations can develop and take advantage of new and innovative ways of operating. To do this successfully, businesses need to have a workforce that is fit for purpose.

Rapidly evolving technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics are increasing the demand for highly-skilled workers, but every type of work is affected. It is estimated that 90% of jobs already require digital skills. And while some jobs will disappear altogether as automation spreads, new jobs and whole new areas of work will emerge.

The College has recognised the importance of developing these skills and has embedded the programme into their core curriculum. It is currently being taught online to over 170 full time students across a range of subjects (Construction, Business, Hospitality, Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy, Sport and Horse care).

Such is the innovation and interest in this new programme, it has been shortlisted for a national award at the annual CDN (College Development Network) Awards – one of the most prestigious awards in the sector. Core Skills staff developed a project-based approach to their course delivery and assessment. This approach has enabled the lecturers to develop the digital, data and meta-skills of the learners that relate more specifically to the needs of the employers. The award recognises a college that has anticipated the importance of wider skills development and has reflected this across the curriculum.

Angela Cox Borders College Principal 750x570Borders College Principal Angela Cox said:

“I am thrilled that the creativity and hard work of the staff is being recognised in this way.
Borders College prides itself on providing our community with the skills they need now and in the future. Accessing and interpreting data is an essential skill, irrespective of the sector you want to work in, and we are delighted to be working with University of Edinburgh on developing these skills, alongside other City Deal partners.”

Alison Muckersie, from University of Edinburgh, the Data-driven Skills Gateway lead, commented:

“The team at Borders College have embraced the opportunity provided by the significant City Region deal investment to prepare their students for the fast-changing world of work. Data skills are becoming increasingly important across all jobs and sectors, and are key to ensuring ongoing competitiveness for businesses. By embedding data literacy in their core skills programme, the College is recognising this trend and is helping their students to be better equipped for the world of work, regardless of the roles they move into.”

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