RSS calls for a strengthening of data skills apprenticeships

Research conducted by the RSS and funded by the Gatsby Foundation has revealed concerningly low levels of statistics and data analysis training across the UK, and we are now calling on the Department for Education (DfE) to work towards improving this.

Remarking on the state of data skills apprenticeships, RSS CEO Dr Sarah Cumbers  said: “Uptake of statistical training needs to improve if we are to meet employers’ demands for data skills and prevent people being left behind. The best way to do this is to improve access to information provider quality, and give people much needed support on how to navigate the statistics and data analysis training available to them.”

Key findings of the report
In a nationally representative UK wide survey of over 2,000 respondents, the RSS found:
  • Only 10% of people are aware of their options for upskilling in data analysis
  • Only 13% of respondents felt they had the necessary statistical skills needed for their work, of those that didn’t, 79% of did not indicate they were aware of their options to upskill
  • 15% of respondents anticipated their job being impacted in the next five to ten years by changes to the way we use data, 75% of whom did not indicate they felt equipped to deal with these potential changes.
The report showed that respondents found it difficult to identify the particular skills they needed or whether any specific course would be providing the right training for them. Responses from those who have undertaken data analyst apprenticeships could point to why that is. While being generally positive about their experience, participants reported communication and access issues and highlighted a lack of detail and timeliness in the information from their course providers. Prior to enrolling, it was also difficult to identify the quality of individual providers.

Addressing the issues
The RSS is calling on DfE to review its current online rating system for providers and to improve the accuracy and depth of information available on provider quality. It is also calling for the department to work with training providers to improve the information available on course content, including the specific skills, software platforms and techniques that will be taught.

The Society is proactively looking for ways to take action and contribute to supporting learners, such as by developing our guidance resources for individuals and businesses, or increasing uptake of the RSS Quality Mark accreditation scheme.  All of which would support a marked improvement in statistical and data-analysis apprenticeships across the UK.

Read the report in full here 
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