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SA academy offers 400 data science internships

The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced 400 free internships for its 12-month Accredited Skills Data Science Programme in 2019.

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The announcement coincides with the opening today of registrations for next year’s intake. The Cape Town-based academy will also open a campus in Gauteng next year to accommodate its expanding student base.

Commenting on the announcement, EDSA co-founder Shaun Dippnall said: “We opened the Academy in January this year with 100 interns. Growing local demand for data scientists, however, has propelled us to quadruple the number of internships offered in 2019.” 

“These internships are sponsored by South African corporates drawn largely from the ICT, banking, insurance and retail sectors, which are leading the application of data science in their businesses to leverage competitive advantage,” Dippnall added.

BCX is a founding partner of EDSA, having injected R50-million into the training of 300 interns over three years. The investment has largely been fuelled by the growing demand for big data analytics and BCX’s recognition of the need for this skillset within the country.

“Data analytics is a field with the potential to grow the South African economy to new heights.  At BCX, we believe data science will allow businesses to make intelligent, data-driven decisions and propel South Africa to become a technology leader as we enter the 4th industrial revolution,” said Portia Maurice, BCX’s Chief Social Impact Officer.

“We are proud to be a founding partner of the EDSA, and believe that our focused strategy on developing disruptive future digital skills has the capacity to change the lives of many young South Africans.”

“In fact, we expect our efforts in the market to contribute to the overall growth of the ICT sector, which is estimated to be at a market size of R155-billion by 2020,” she added.

Gauteng Campus

Commenting on the decision to expand the EDSA’s current base at the Bandwidth Barn in Woodstock, Cape Town to Gauteng in 2019, Dippnall said:

“Corporate demand for data science talent has been immense and given that most of our sponsors for our 2019 student intake are Johannesburg based, it makes sense to provide a campus in Gauteng, facilitating the flow of candidates into their businesses.”

“Also, more than half of our current students are not from Cape Town and chose to relocate to be here for the programme.”

BCX again has taken the lead by being the first to sponsor the inaugural intake of students for the Gauteng campus, which will open its doors in January 2019.

Student Progress

Dippnall is overjoyed by the progress made by the current intake of interns and the proven success of the Academy’s online application process.

No restrictions to entry, nor are formal qualifications required for the one-year Accredited Skills Data Science Programme.  Applicants should be between 17 and 35 years of age and must pass a series of challenging aptitude tests, an on-line data science boot camp, a case study and an interview

“We have had a 98 percent retention rate, which is extremely high, given the complex and highly technical nature of the course.

Of the 100 interns selected from the over 10 000 who applied for the 2018 intake, 32 were matriculants, with no previous training.

“What’s more students have already demonstrated their ability to begin solving real world problems – including an analysis of the water shortages in Cape Town, after just a few months of exposure to data science techniques and tools,” he said. 

A team from EDSA was placed third in a recent City of Cape Town-sponsored Hackathon.

Mirroring the workplace

The EDSA Accredited Skills Data Science programme is an agile, digital, peer-to-peer, modern education course that is Seta-accredited and teaches students new economy skills that are not offered on current platforms. In addition, AWS is Explore’s exclusive machine learning platform provider.

“Our course closely mirrors the demands of the workplace. Included in the curriculum are tools such as Python, PowerBI, SQL and Scikit-learn, which are routinely required when building data science applications. We have also added job immersion and self-paced project work, which both involve team dynamics and interaction,” Dippnall said.

While job placement at the end of the year is not guaranteed, Dippnall is confident that uptake of candidates will be strong given the shortage of skills. Stipends are available to cover the living expenses of successful candidates who are in financial need.

“We are particularly excited to be the first institution to offer a focused, comprehensive and free year-long accredited skills data science programme in the country that builds the relevant digital skills within our youth, so that they can thrive in the new economy,” Dippnall concluded.

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