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These new courses are giving students digital skills that employers really want

New courses aimed at teaching students some of the most sought-after digital skills have been launched at Birmingham City University.

Microsoft has teamed up with the Institute of Coding (IoC) to introduce a programme focused on analysing and visualising data with Power BI, the technology company’s information analytics tool.

The courses were created to help people gain technical, job-ready skills and real-world experience through online work, hands-on labs and expert instruction, paving the way for careers in technology.

As companies digitise more of their operations, they are creating much more data about their sites, staff and how they work. Bosses need experts who can look through those insights and use it to help make their business become more efficient and reduce unnecessary costs.

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Students completing the courses will receive a Microsoft certificate to prove their new skills.

Ian Fordham, Director of Education at Microsoft UK, said: “We are delighted to have worked with the Institute of Coding and Birmingham City University to give students the opportunity to achieve certification in an increasingly vital area of technology.

“As we move further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it will be evermore important for students to leave the education system with the technical skills organisations will need to thrive in this new cloud economy. Helping students understand and apply AI and machine learning technologies, cloud and data analytics can help set these students on a prosperous career path and we look forward to rolling this programme out more broadly in time for the new academic year.”

Originally launched as a pilot for 40 students at the university, the courses will now be rolled out to more entrants in the next academic year.

Learn more about Microsoft’s Digital Skills Programme

Rachid Hourizi, Director of the IoC, said: “This initiative is designed to equip students with a really practical understanding of data science, bolstering their CV and improving their employability prospects.

“Our mission is to spread opportunity through digital skills, empowering as many people as possible, whatever their background, to reach their full potential.”

The IoC was launched by Prime Minister Theresa May in January, supported by a consortium of more than 60 universities, industry experts and businesses, including Microsoft, in a bid to tackle the UK’s digital skills gap.

It is believed that 65% of today’s students will end up working in jobs that don’t exist yet, and more than 500,000 highly-skilled workers will be needed to fill digital roles by 2022 – three times the number of UK computer science students who graduated in the past 10 years. Just 5% of computer scientists are female, while people returning to work and those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are also vastly underrepresented within the sector.

The institute aims to deliver practical digital skills to higher education students and those already in employment via industry-accredited courses at 25 traditional universities across Britain, and education providers such as the Open University, Birkbeck and FutureLearn.

Microsoft will offer a technology curriculum that will prepare students for a digital career, digital literacy skills that employers are looking for and free software, among other services.

The IoC will be funded via a £20 million investment from the Government, which said digital skills are “essential” to economic growth, and £20 million from the consortium and other industry partners.