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Event showcases talent

Data scientists ‘want careers in Scotland’

Cally Russell 4Growing evidence that students want to stay in Scotland after completing their studies is one impetus behind an event showcasing technological talent.

Data Talent Scotland, taking place in Edinburgh tomorrow (Wed), is aimed at building on new technologies being developed around data science.

A survey of students ahead of the event found that lifestyle is more important than salary and that most wanted to build their careers in Scotland.

The Data Lab’s study showed that of the 91 students surveyed, only 7% were motivated by salary, with the remainder attracted to roles that had an interesting data science challenge, a good work life balance, and support through training.

Data Talent Scotland, taking place at the Assembly Rooms, will give 250 data scientists of the future the chance to share knowledge with the UK’s leading data innovators. Speakers are from  Deloitte, RBS and TSB Bank as well as NHS Scotland, fast growing app fashion firm Mallzee (pictured), and health informatics pioneer Aridhia.

Hosted by The Data Lab in partnership with MBN Solutions and WeAreTheFuture, more than half of those attending the event will be MSc students in Data Science courses from around Scotland.

Hot topics will include the use of data to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s population, and how data is helping to bring competition back to UK banking.

The event will include workshops on topics such as soft skills and employability.

Among the keynote speakers will be Costi Perricos of Deloitte. The firm is expecting to create up to 70 jobs when it opens its Digital Studio in Edinburgh this year and Dr Perricos is eager to tap into Scotland’s talent network.

He said: “It’s a hugely exciting time to be a data scientist, especially if you want to work with some of the biggest clients in the world.

“It has never been more important for organisations to derive insights from all aspects of their business. This includes their customers and channels to operations, supply chain and support functions. We recognise the high calibre of talent in Scotland and we are keen to recruit for our new Deloitte Digital Studio and our wider consulting practice.”

Students said they would like to have more contact with industry at technical events such as hackathons and collider events such as Data Talent Scotland to encourage integration between students and industry.

Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab, said: “It is very encouraging that so many of the individuals we surveyed want to stay in Scotland after they complete their studies but with around one third of those needing a visa to work here it is a reminder that we must provide practical support to help them navigate the system.

“Big data is worth £216 million to the UK and Scotland is rapidly establishing itself as a centre of data science expertise. It is home to almost half of all of the UK’s Data Science Masters level programmes, with 17 courses available in 2016-17 across a range of sectors.”

Representatives from Talent Scotland, part of Scottish Enterprise, will also be on hand at Data Talent Scotland to provide international students with practical information about visas and immigration issues.

Kevin Hodgson, a Mathematics teacher at Kinross High School, is taking a group of secondary school pupils to the event. He is hoping to motivate more of his students to study statistics by showing them the many and varied potential career routes for data scientists.

He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our young people to find out more about the vital role of statistics in the process of data management and analysis, and the diverse opportunities there are to develop skills and knowledge into an interesting long-term career path.

“I am hoping the event will help to bring mathematics and statistics to life and get our students enthused about studying these subjects to a higher level.”

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