The Explore Data Science Academy is the first of its kind in South Africa. Photo - TechcentralThe Explore Data Science Academy is the first of its kind in South Africa. Photo – Techcentral

The first data science training academy has been established in South Africa, with a $3.8 million investment by Business Connexion Group (BCX) enabling the launch of the academy.

The substantial investment from information and communications technology firm, Business Connexion Group, has gone towards the establishment of the Explore Data Science Academy, which will aim to satisfy the growing demand for big data analytics and related skills in the country, according to BusinessTech.

The academy is based in the Bandwidth Barn in Cape Town’s Woodstock area, and will focus on practical application of data science, as opposed to theory.

Through the academy, founder partner Business Connexion Group will sponsor 300 interns over the next three years, while also future-proofing executives in data science skills through the provision of additional courses, according to Techcentral.

The academy was officially launched with the announcement of 100 free internships to successful applicants of the one-year Accredited Skills Data Science Programme, which is set to begin in January 2018.

Unique data science course

The Explore Data Science Academy was founded by qualified data scientists Shaun Dippnall, Dave Strugnell and Aidan Helmbold.

Dippnall, a former actuarial lecturer at UKZN with experience in chief actuary and chief data scientist roles at some of the largest companies in South Africa, believes that the offering from the academy is unique and worth the effort.

“Ours is a unique, one-of-a-kind course in that it is free, practical, has real-world relevance and provides work experience. We also like the fact that it is open to anyone with aptitude,” said Dippnall, according to ITWeb.

“The support from BCX allows our interns crucial access to real-world challenges. What’s more, the spectrum of programmes we offer simulate the teamwork required when working with data in a corporate environment,” he added.

South Africa has been proactive about addressing the need to build the necessary digital skills that are in demand of late, with the University of Cape Town recently becoming the first college institution in Africa to offer a specialized fintech degree.

Officially listed as a master of data science with a specialisation in financial technology qualification, the new degree will be offered for the first time in January 2018, according to BizNewsAfrica.

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