Industry-Driven MSc in Data Analytics is Bridging the Skills Gap in Ireland

Data Analytics is one of the few areas where demand for graduates is exceeding supply...

Today’s digital economy is characterised by the generation and commodification of one key intangible asset - data. Every second, massive quantities of data are being produced via a wide range of connected devices - from mobile phones to smart cars to medical devices. These devices act as a conduit through which startling insights into human behaviour can be revealed. Making sense of this data has become increasingly important to organisations and businesses who employ wide scale data collection techniques as a way of gaining strategic and competitive advantages in the online advertising space.

While the principles of data analytics emerged from the field of computer science and mathematics, the range of uses to which it can be put are only beginning to be realised. “Big data era is characterised by not only the volume of data but the sheer velocity at which it is generated. Making sense of and deriving value from this data is a key skill in demand in this new data-driven economy,” Trevor Prendergast, who is head of Department of Accounting and Business Computing at Athlone Institute of Technology, said.

The global data economy is growing at an exponential rate with approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being produced daily. This number is likely to double every two years with the emergence of new technologies and devices driven by Moore’s Law. As far as Mr Prendergast is concerned, this makes data a more valuable commodity than oil. “Just like oil, data needs to be extracted, refined and stored to generate value but unlike oil, data originates from a surprisingly vast array of sources. The axiom, value is determined by scarcity, is therefore turned on its head. In the digital network economy, value is instead determined by the economics of abundance,” he explained.

Demand for suitably qualified graduates is soaring at home and abroad to the extent that data analytics is one of the few areas where demand for graduates is exceeding supply. The Irish Government has positioned Ireland as the Big Data Capital of Europe, the express intention of which is to create significant employment opportunities. Internationally, demand for data analysts is also on the rise with projected demand of 28% expected by 2020.

In response to this skill gap, Athlone Institute of Technology has developed an industry-focussed, contemporary master’s programme designed to furnish graduates with the skills and aptitudes necessary to excel in the emerging field of big data and data analytics. The two-year, part-time programme will introduce students to a range of skills and software in the areas of data manipulation and management, techniques to manage this data and ultimately, analytics methodologies that can elicit meaningful insights from large data sets.

“Athlone Institute of Technology is well positioned to upskill employees from technical and non-technical backgrounds that find themselves in roles that have evolved into making sense of large volumes of data. The programme is specifically designed with flexibility in mind, where a reasonable balance between learning, work and family life can be maintained. We have a range of qualified staff, across a number of different disciplines, who are experienced in research and development in the area of data analytics,” Mr Prendergast said.

Commencing January 2020, the Master of Science in Data Analytics is open to graduates from a wide array of cognate disciplines, including those with an engineering, science or business background. Classes are delivered online, with the occasional workshop hosted on-campus.

The programme will see students develop their skills in areas, including database technologies, data manipulation languages including SQL and the R programming language, programming for Big Data, statistics and probability and the interpretation of data. Students will also be required to undertake a practical data analytics project and associated thesis. The ultimate goal of the programme is to provide industry with data-savvy practitioners capable of gleaning insights from vast quantities of data for the purposes of operational and strategic decision making.

For further information, please contact Trevor Prendergast - email: tprendergast@ait.ie or phone: (090) 647 1857. For further details, visit: www.ait.ie/courses/mscdapt

An educational powerhouse defined by a commitment to academic excellence, Athlone Institute of Technology has enjoyed considerable successes in the academic arena, most notably being named one of U-Multirank’s ‘Top 25 Performing Universities’ in the world for interdisciplinary research the second consecutive year. Further solidifying its reputational prowess, the institute continues to enjoy the highest ranking nationally in the Irish Survey of Student Engagement – 69% versus 29% national average. These accolades build upon the institute’s success in winning the Sunday Times Good University Guide ‘Institute of Technology of the Year’ award in 2018 and Runner Up award in 2017.

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