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Training public sector data experts

16 June 2020

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Cardiff University has partnered with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to deliver a range of professional development courses for public sector workers.

The courses have been designed to build data science capability across government by equipping civil servants with a key set of skills required from a modern government data analyst.

The University will become the latest provider of the MSc in Data Analytics for Government (MDataGov), joining four other universities across the UK.

More than 100 public sector workers take part in the programme each year, which has already proved to be extremely successful in building the Government’s data science capacity

The one-year MSc programme, starting in 2020/21, will consist of four core modules in Data Science Foundations, Statistics in Government, Survey Fundamentals and Statistical Programming In addition, the MSc includes a range of optional modules including Time Series and Forecasting, Applied Machine Learning, Distributed and Cloud Computing and Data Visualisation, among others.

These core modules are available to study on a standalone basis, giving the learner the flexibility to study at postgraduate level whilst also managing existing work and life commitments.

This course will form part of the new Cardiff University Data Science Academy (DSA), established in October 2019 to support the education of the next generation of experts in the fields of Data Science, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity.

The DSA is run by Cardiff University’s School of Computer Science and Informatics, in partnership with the School of Mathematics, and is based on the University’s National Software Academy model, where students are given real-world experience by working on team-based, client-facing projects.

The launch of the DSA was prompted by increasing industry requirement for highly-skilled, data-literate graduates, and reports stating a demand for skilled master’s and PhD graduates who have the “added practical experience” to meet industry demands.

The new programme is the latest development to arise from a strategic partnership developed between Cardiff University and the ONS in 2019.

This partnership was set up to encourage sharing of facilities, resources and expertise, co-developing events and activities to promote data use as part of decision making in public policy, and new research collaborations that improve understanding on topics such as healthy ageing, economic intelligence and education and skills.

It builds on many years of close working between Cardiff University and the ONS which has already seen Cardiff students take part in developing new data science techniques that aim to inform top government decisions.

Professor Paul Harper, Academic Lead and Chair for the University’s Strategic Partnership with the ONS, said: "I'm delighted that this new programme has been developed as part of our strategic partnership with the ONS.

“This partnership, formed in 2019, was set up to encourage sharing of facilities, resources and expertise, co-developing events, programmes and activities, and for research collaborations on topics such as healthy ageing, data science and economic intelligence.”

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