The green light has been given for funding which will benefit the Borders, as part of a series of announcements made under the Edinburgh and South East City Deal.

The Data Driven Innovation Fund (DDI) will see money made available to Borders College who, working with key partners, will lead the upskilling of workers in digital skills and data science, with the aims of raising knowledge and understanding to disadvantaged communities across the region.

Borders College aims to bring opportunities pertaining to the emerging data economy to disadvantaged communities across the City Region and address gender inequality in the tech sector.

By moving to more and more digital solutions, businesses can benefit and take advantage of new and innovative ways of operating and, as part of this, businesses need to have a workforce fit for purpose.

Training will be offered to women returners, enabling them to re-join the developing workforce of the future, as well as students on higher level courses who will also get the opportunity to participate in additional training in data science, giving them the competitive edge in the employment market.

There will also be a range of short-courses for adult learners aimed at getting this group back into work with both digital and data science learning.

Focussing on students who are care experienced or are access students with learning difficulties, this project will ensure that those furthest from mainstream education do not miss out on the future developments in terms of digital and data literacy.

Leading the project at Borders College, Heather Anderson, Vice Principal for Curriculum and Learning, commented:

“We are very much at the early stages of this exciting project, which will ensure that no section of the community does not have the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding that will ensure they have essential employability skills for the future.”

David Mundell, Secretary of State for Scotland, said:

“This exciting project – backed by £270m of UK government investment – will ensure that the UK leads the world in technologies of the future, and benefits from the economic growth opportunities this brings. By giving 100,000 people, and 1,000 companies, the skills and capability they need to drive innovation through big data and artificial intelligence, this partnership working will help maximise the potential of these sectors – a key goal of the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.”

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The digital technology 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.

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 joint project will get underway in earnest by summer 2019 when the project coordinator, a shared post between a number of Scottish Colleges, is appointed.

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