Data Skills Gateway

The Data Skills Gateway is a Scottish Government funded initiative that is part of a bigger £1.1bn UK City Deal investment into Edinburgh and the South-East of Scotland Region. The aim of the Data Skills Gateway is to upskill people in the region to succeed in future jobs that are increasingly reliant on data. 


Businesses and jobs are quickly evolving and becoming more reliant on data - analysing it, visualising it, understanding it, and making business decisions based on it. To meet demand, new data skills are needed. As Scotland emerges as a world-leading digital hotspot, 175,000 new digital jobs could be created by 2030, however 82% of employers report difficulties in recruiting the right skills and experience (Scottish Futures Trust).


The Data Skills Gateway aims to improve data skills in schools, colleges, universities and in work across Edinburgh and South-East Scotland Region. It covers basic and key skills in schools through to advanced postgraduate training and research.

Since it launched in 2018, Edinburgh Napier University has put more than 3,000 undergraduates through enhanced data skills courses. From engineering through to marketing and nursing, Edinburgh Napier is helping to upskill Edinburgh and south-east of Scotland’s future multidisciplinary workforce with enhanced data skills.


Upskilling and empowering the next generation of data professionals and data workers

In all sectors, from companies to hospitals, there is an increasing amount of data and a growing need for people to be able to interpret this data to make effective decisions – from a marketeer interpreting complex consumer trends to inform better business decisions, to a health professional understanding and interpreting health data to lead to improved outcomes for patients.

The Data Skills Gateway programme is an inclusive project that aims to identify groups of individuals, living and working in Edinburgh and the south-east region who would benefit from upskilling in data skills development. As part of the programme, Edinburgh Napier University is leading on the data education at universities, focusing in particular on delivery at Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University. There are three aspects of this work: developing new degree courses; embedding data skills on existing courses; and facilitating work experience placements for students.

From nursing to marketing, enhancing data skills across a variety of disciplines  

As part of the Data Skills Gateway, Edinburgh Napier has been embedding data skills into several of its undergraduate programmes, including nursing; business; and engineering degree courses.

In nursing, for example, a data element has been added to a first-year module on community health, empowering Edinburgh Napier trained nurses to look at health data in a particular geographical location, analyse it, and make recommendations for health interventions.

 Another prime example has been in the teaching and delivery of its digital marketing degree course. In the traditional marketing research module, data analysis was taught by analysing interview data or analysing data from statistical research. By embedding data skills through the Data Skills Gateway programme, students enrolled on the course now have the valuable opportunity to learn from using real consumer data that is applied in business already - such as social media data and website analytics – to immediately understand real-world business problems to make informed decisions with impact.

The key aim of the Data Skills Gateway is to upskill people in the region to become future data leaders and to be able to understand data, and that includes artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Professor Sally Smith, Edinburgh Napier University
Data skills are not a bolt on that you can just add here and there. It needs to be woven in and integrated into the curriculum, and I think the data driven innovation through the Data Skills Gateway helps to do just that.
Dr Simone Kurtzke, Edinburgh Napier University
I always had a lens on employability and taking part in the digital marketing analytics module has been invaluable to me for finding a job, as well as performing highly in my job.
Sam Drummond, BA in Marketing Management with Digital Media

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