Rowena O'Sullivan and Sandra Busby, front, joined by the first graduates of the Welsh Data Science Graduate Programme
As some of the UK’s biggest graduate employers reveal they’re now struggling to attract candidates to London, the launch of the Welsh Data Science Graduate Programme has given the country’s top talent added incentive to build their careers in the Welsh data science sector.
Launched by the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, the programme has been specifically designed in consultation with data scientists from Wales’ leading companies, the University of South Wales and experts from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to attract and retain top Welsh graduates with the chance to start their careers via a unique pathway that is only available in Wales.
Traditionally, high calibre graduates have
instinctively sought out opportunities in London. While the UK capital’s pull
is still strong, recently several leading graduate employers, including PwC,
have voiced concern that rising student debt and London’s cost of living is
diminishing its appeal.
The Welsh Data Science Programme seeks to address the industry’s rapidly growing demand for expert professionals with the nationally sought-after skills to transform big data into the strategic information required to capitalise on the megatrends of the future.
Even at its launch, the demand for the Programme’s 25 places is high, as leading graduates recognise the unique opportunity to start their careers with industry leading companies, while studying for a paid MSc and training from ONS experts.
Speaking of the Welsh Data Science Graduate Programme, which is supported by £2.3m of EU funds, Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford said: “The Welsh Government is committed to retaining graduate talent in Wales, helping them to progress and gain the high-level skills and experience they need to develop successful careers and become tomorrow’s leaders.
“I am pleased EU funds are supporting this important area of data science, which is vital for our future and will help grow our economy.’
Sandra Busby, Managing Director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, said of her aspirations for the programme and its graduates: “The potential of Wales’ data science industry is truly limitless. It already includes some of the UK’s largest companies, multinational enterprises, and a growing number of dynamic, driven startups and SMEs.
“However, regardless of their scale or individual commercial goals, they all share a common need. If you think of how we use smartphones, social networking, loyalty cards and just browsing the web the amount of data we are all generating is enormous. Companies need to manage and analyse this data which is why the growth for talent in this sector is both outweighing demand and hugely competitive.
“Today, we’re not only launching a means for businesses to grow their talent pool, we’re providing the country’s top talent with an opportunity they can’t find anywhere else. In doing so, we aim to encourage businesses and graduates alike to recognise the opportunities that are open to them if they take the opportunity to invest in Wales.”
The programme’s participating companies range from some of the most recognisable UK brands with established presences in Wales and motivated new starts that are already making waves in the industry, including: Admiral, Atradius, Hodge Bank, Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions, Motonovo Finance, Optimum Credit Ltd, Principality Building Society, GoCompare Group plc, Henry Howard Finance, Active Quote, Confused.com, Centrica, and Talent Ticker.
Speaking on behalf of GoCompare Group plc, the Wales-headquartered tech company which also happens to be one of the most recognisable brands in the UK, Lee Griffin, Founder and President of GoCompare, said: “We take our responsibility as an employer and nurturer of talent very seriously, which is why we launched the GoFurther Academy, through which we deliver all of our employee training initiatives.
“Our investment in the Welsh Data Science Graduate Programme complements this and, we believe, will have substantial benefits for talent development, the economy and the growing tech community in Wales.
“A number of great companies are involved with the programme, which emphasises how committed Wales is to tech innovation, especially in the data science field. I’m pleased that we are part of a forward-thinking group of likeminded Welsh businesses.”
Another early adopter of the Programme is ActiveQuote.com. Founded in 2009 by technology entrepreneur Dr Richard Theo, the company has become the UK’s leading comparison website and broker of health and protection insurance products. Commenting on the need for the Programme ActiveQuote’s managing director, Rob Saunders, said: “Data science is key to our future as a business – as well as supporting ActiveQuote’s objective to innovate in health and protection insurance comparison, having an improved understanding of our data will also help us make better decisions for our customers and continue to lead the field in the insurance market.
“We have been really impressed with the knowledge and skills of the graduates joining the programme and we’re looking forward to seeing the outputs from the projects they will support us with. As a business looking to create 35 jobs over the next 12 months, we wholeheartedly support anything that helps to encourage talented graduates to come to Wales.”
For further information regarding the Welsh Data Science Graduate Programme, please contact Programme Manager, Rowena O’Sullivan Rowena@WCCF.UK