Global analytics leader SAS, which supplies advanced data analytics to 90% of the top 100 Fortune companies, has today launched the SAS STEP Programme. It is a free digital learning programme to aid post-pandemic economic recovery by training 10,000 people across the UK and Ireland in much sought-after data skills, with the aim of finding them employment.
The SAS STEP Programme is primarily aimed at those seeking employment or facing redundancy but is also open to anyone looking to make themselves more employable, including graduates, the self-employed, or those already in employment. SAS has designed tailored, best-in-class course content and is providing possible routes into employment for alumni, partnering with universities to help deliver the programme to local areas and other organisations to place candidates into job roles.
SAS also plans to partner with the University of Bradford, to help deliver the programme in the Bradford area following a successful pilot conducted in late 2020.
The free programme, designed to reinvigorate the nation’s workforce with in-demand data skills, comprises four learning pathways. Today marks the launch of the foundational data literacy pathway, along with the data analyst course. Further data engineering and the more advanced data science pathways will be released later in the year. As part of the course, candidates will receive hands-on, industry-leading training through a tailored software portal, allowing users to practice, apply and embed increasingly vital data and analytical skills.
These skills are in high demand, with recent research conducted by Vanson Bourne revealing that nearly three-quarters (71%) of businesses believe a sufficient level of data literacy is now ‘very important’ or ‘essential’ when it comes to hiring candidates. Data skills were already in high demand before the pandemic and more than nine out of 10 businesses (92%) believe remote working and increased reliance on technology has amplified the need for these skills at least to some extent.
Candidates participating in the programme will be able to choose from a wide range of resources including coding challenges, guided case studies, dedicated mentors, and live web classes, allowing them to quickly increase their attractiveness to prospective employers.
“The SAS STEP Programme represents a golden opportunity to improve your data skills or even retrain for a career at the cutting edge of innovation across industries, following a challenging year for many in terms of job security,” explained Roderick Crawford, Vice President & Country Manager, SAS UK & Ireland.
“A key aspect of the programme is providing important skills that are in high demand, making candidates more employable. For some it may even offer a pathway to a lucrative and enduring career, as data analytics and AI are increasingly shaping the major decisions being taken in the world today. It is therefore our intention to place candidates into employment in as many cases as possible, both internally and across our extensive network of customers in search of these skills.”
Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan, said: “I am delighted to welcome the roll-out of SAS STEP, which will help even more people get access to the highly valued data skills they need to get ahead. As we build back better from the pandemic it is even more important that everyone, no matter their background, is able to learn the skills they need to progress their careers or develop new opportunities.”
One of the participants in the successful pilot with the University of Bradford was Ranjit Khera, who commented: “Going through the process of being made redundant from my role at a major utility company after 13 years in the role, left me feeling a lot of uncertainty over my future job prospects. Thankfully, the SAS STEP Programme was a real lifeline for me in this regard – these skills will be invaluable to my career progression and have already given me more confidence about the types of jobs I can now apply for.”
Professor Sankar Sivarajah, Head of School of Management at the University of Bradford’s Faculty of Management, Law & Social Sciences, said: “The successful joint digital skills pilot programme delivered by SAS and University of Bradford was extremely well received and made a positive difference for the Bradford community. It has provided the opportunity for our city’s workforce to re-skill and equip them with vital data and analytics skills and capacity that is needed for in-demand jobs as we prepare for the post Covid-19 recovery of our economy in Bradford. We look forward to continuing to work with SAS and embed it more deeply into the university and wider local economy.”