Scotland’s data talent showcased to the world

Picture: Lesley Martin

As the demand for a data-literate workforce increases, Scotland is preparing to host an event that connects new talent with global industry.

Data Talent Scotland, part of the forthcoming DataFest17 week of events, will feature more than 25 organisations, including Sainsbury’s Bank, SAS, Aquila Insight, NHS NSS and Registers of Scotland that are looking to fill specialist data roles.

Data Talent takes place at Murrayfield Stadium on 22 March at a time when demand for data skills is ‘unprecedented’ with hundreds of specialist jobs needing to be filled throughout the country.

The event will allow recruiting organisations to meet and interview more than 250 Masters and PhD students from 16 specialist data courses at 11 universities around Scotland, as well as other experienced data specialists looking for new roles in this exciting and dynamic sector.

Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab, said: “Scotland is a world-leader in data science. Key to retaining and building on this position is investing in talent. Our universities are seeing growing demand for specialist data courses and The Data Lab supports that through sponsoring 90 masters students across the country, increasing to 120 places in the next academic year. The specialist talent emerging from these institutions is attracting global interest. That equates to an inward investment opportunity.

“Data Talent is a catalyst for employment and skills development. It enhances links between industry, universities and data talent. Ultimately the event will see students land their dream job and employers can recruit their ideal candidate.”

Ian Blewett, Scottish Enterprise’s head of digital economy, added: “Scotland boasts one of the most sophisticated landscapes for data science and growing pools of talent. There are over 150 companies engaged in creating data centred solutions in Scotland. This event showcases our strengths in the global data skills marketplace which is why we are working with SDI to invite overseas prospects come and see for themselves the skills on offer.”

Mark Hunter, Chief Data Officer at Sainsbury’s Bank, which is sponsoring and taking part in the Data Talent event, commented: “At Sainsbury’s Bank, data is vitally important as it’s the way we understand our customers, therefore having talented data people is crucial to our business.”

Michael Young, chief executive of specialist data recruitment consultancy MBN, said: “Demand for data talent in Scotland is well in to the hundreds. It is at an unprecedented level from both established commercial organisations and emerging disruptive businesses. Organisations realise that hiring and nurturing talent at all levels is one of the most effective ways of growing data capability – which has become an essential component in today’s business models.”

Data Talent will also include a number of workshops:

  • Data Science and Society: working in the public and voluntary sector with the Scottish Government’s Chief Statistician, NHS NSS Head of Service, City of Edinburgh Council.
  • How to start your own Data Science Company.
  • How to get a job in data science in Scotland led by MBN solutions.
  • Data Job Descriptions in 2025 – what are the skills we should learn now to be prepared with Lydia Nicholas, of Nesta, Deloitte, The Data Lab and others.

DataFest17 is a festival of data innovation run by The Data Lab and supported by Scottish Enterprise, with events and training hosted across Scotland from 20 to 24th March. As well as Data Talent, it includes a two day international conference, Data Summit, which will feature renowned data leaders from around the world including Hilary Mason, Nuria Oliver and John Akred.

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