12 apprentices have been recruited for the inaugural cohort, with plans to expand the programme in the future. The application process was open to those without university degrees.
Research by the UK Government has found that almost a quarter of employees use data skills in their work, yet a shortage of skills in this area is estimated to cost UK businesses £2bn a year. In 2019, one in 10 job vacancies required data expertise, while over 100,000 data positions remain unfilled.
As well as enabling young professionals to develop these skills, the Data Academy sets out to level the playing field and enable talented young people from diverse backgrounds to access careers in data.
Tech and data careers are still dominated by certain groups. Just 30% of UK roles within data and analytics are held by women, and only 3% are from a black, Caribbean and African ethnicity. The recruitment process welcomed and supported those that are underrepresented in the data sector, and was open to those without university degrees.
Training will be delivered by Multiverse, a startup tech company building an outstanding alternative to university and corporate training through apprenticeships. The company announced the closing of a $130 million Series C funding round earlier this year and now trains over 5,000 tech, leadership and digital apprentices.
Aesha Zafar, Head of Strategic Capability and Talent at DWP Digital said: “We’re committed to building capability within DWP Digital and are excited to be offering a range of apprenticeship technical roles that support our new talent pipeline. Working closely with Multiverse as a provider, we’re also looking at growing talent from within and developing the skills and knowledge of our current colleagues so that they’re fully supported on their career pathways.”
Euan Blair, CEO of Multiverse CEO, said: “For too long, we've seen some groups of people locked out of the best careers in data and tech. Initiatives like this one, announced by DWP Digital, are absolutely crucial for levelling the playing field and giving a much broader audience the ability to access those jobs.
"This new Data Academy is a radical alternative to a traditional grad scheme, and gives those with or without a university degree the best possible start to a career in data and tech."
Multiverse apprentices at DWP Digital will benefit from one-to-one coaching with an industry expert and are supported by a thriving community with events, socials, mentoring and leadership programmes designed to exceed the best of the university experience.