A PILOT scheme initially launched in Edinburgh and south-east Scotland aimed at enhancing the labour market with additional data skills is to be rolled out across the country.

Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence (AI), The Data Lab, has launched two new funding schemes to support further business investment in the sector after receiving a £1 million boost from the Scottish Government.

The new funding means up to £100,000 in additional Data Skills Credits can now be rolled out across Scotland to support the small to medium enterprise (SME) workforce to upskill and reskill.

Data Skills for Work is designed to diversify the workforce by helping adults to upskill or reskill in data to progress in their careers.

The programme prioritises support for workers in jobs which are being changed by automation, women returning to the workplace, people with disabilities and BAME communities.

Alongside this an SME data internship grant will enable smaller firms and start-ups to host a master’s student who can undertake a short data science project aimed at benefitting the business.

The students, who are currently studying master’s level data science, AI and data engineering through The Data Lab’s MSc programme, will bring the latest industry knowledge and skills to their hosting organisations. At the same time they will benefit from invaluable, hands-on experience during the global pandemic.

The Data Lab’s CEO, Gillian Docherty, said: “As we support a Covid-19 recovery across the economy, the additional funding from the Scottish Government is being put to good use through our new schemes.

“The grants are designed to support data literacy amongst companies in Scotland, which can hopefully pave the way for a greater understanding of how data and AI can support businesses, in addition to helping those who are eager to upskill or reskill for career diversification and progression.

“The value of data for business is huge, though it still a largely untapped potential for many companies – particularly SMEs and start-ups which often need external support at the earlier stages.

“As such, funding designed to support these organisations via access to our creative, inspiring student cohort, is the perfect way to benefit both businesses and those getting ready to enter the workforce.”