One of the projects we are proud of is our work at the Future Skills Lab – www.futureskillslab.nl . Over the past summer, Marian Dragt from DataChangers and I started talking about doing another academy for data science. We had previously worked together on the pilot Microsoft Azure Academy for Women with Techionista and the Johan Cruijff Arena. Given that we are both fast movers and thinkers, we wanted to create an even more inclusive program.
We also wanted it to be self-funding and independent since the most important goal was bringing data science skills to more people. Our focus is increasing data science and analysis skills in the workforce, not creating an assembly line of graduates that carry the stamp “Data Scientist”. We think about it as the application of practical data science skills for work today.
We have an intense program. Our current cohort is finishing up their second month. They have two more months to go and they have been learning about things like Ethics, R and Python, Statistics, Visualization and Machine Learning. In addition, we’ve also asked them to dedicate themselves to learning skills in communication, presentation, leadership and consultative problem solving. They have also chosen to participate in hackathons and spend every Friday building projects with hands on learning. They are also building and maintaining a strong and active community around data science.
We have a program that combines participants who are sent by their employers to expand their knowledge and return back with the knowledge, community and skills needed to help expand the data science footprint and skillset. We also have participants who will be looking for a new employer and see their participation in this program as an investment in themselves, an opportunity to grow and to grab new chances!
We don’t restrict ourselves to a laundry list of pre-qualifications and requirements. Instead we look for specific characteristics and evidence of them. We also look for the previous work experience and work with them from the beginning to identify what kind of organization, culture and daily work they dream of. We know that we are preparing them to use their newly acquired Data Science skills to help their next employer. They all have different interests. Some have a deep affinity for the algorithms and the technology and want to go on to create and refine them. Other participants want to use their new skills to help create data driven organizations and teams. Others want to use their data science skills to go into public service and serve the community. In short, their motivations and experiences are unique.
For us, as founding partners of the Future Skills Lab, our goal is to help them land those next steps. That’s where you can come in. If you are thinking about adding data science skills to your organization, with existing employees or new, please connect with us. We’ll be at the European Women In Technology conference this week as a sponsor – stand B12. Or reach out to me directly. I will be more than happy to tell you more about our cohort for I am so intensely proud of the work they are doing each day!