M&S offers staff data science training to drive digital transformation
High street giant becomes the first in the world to launch data academy for retail
Marks & Spencer will offer its employees a chance to study data science when it launches the world's first data academy in retail.
The retail giant has partnered with business tech educators, Decoded, to create the M&S Data Academy that will take colleagues from every function of the business and create a new raft of data skilled leaders to promote digital transformation across the organisation.
Employees will be encouraged to enrol on an 18-month data science skills programme, where they will learn to harness cutting-edge data analytics tools such as "R" and "Python" and adopt technologies such as machine learning.
"We are proud to be working with one of the UK's most iconic brands in retail and excited to be putting data literacy and skills in the hands of over 1,000 people," said Kathryn Parsons, founder of Decoded.
"This is a pioneering and inspiring commitment to lifelong learning and future-facing skills. Every leader in business today should take note. Education is the answer to The Fourth Industrial Revolution."
Learners will finish the programme with a Data Analytics qualification accredited by the British Computing Society and M&S see this as key to its survival on the high street with the rise of tech giants like Amazon and Ocado rapidly taking up much of the retail market.
"This is the biggest digital investment in our people to date and the creation of the M&S Data Academy will upskill colleagues and provide them with an in-depth level of digital literacy as well as a Data Analytics qualification," said Steve Rowe, chief executive of M&S.
"Transformation of our business is key to survival and a huge part of this lies with our colleagues. We need to change our digital behaviours, mindsets and our culture to make the business fit for the digital age and our partnership with Decoded will enable us to do this."
The Data Fellowship is fully funded by the UK government's apprenticeship Levy, which was created to help upskill the UK workforce to be ready for the Future of Work.
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