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July 30, 2018

M&S Announces Retail Data Skills Academy

M&S academy funded by gov't upskilling scheme

By Umar Hassan

British retailer Marks & Spencer has announced a partnership with Decoded to create a data skills academy.

The launch of the new academy will see over 1,000 employees being trained as part of M&S’s attempt to become a more digital business.

Tech educators Decoded have previously worked with clients such as IBM, TalkTalk and The Financial Times to upskill organisations in emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, quantum computing and cybersecurity.

Colleagues from each of the company’s retail departments such as store managers, visual merchandisers to finance and buying will be moulded into “data-skilled leaders” M&S said on Monday.

How Does the M&S Data Academy Work?

Within the M&S Data Academy, the leadership team will undergo a Data Leadership programme, enabling them to be hands on with tech such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

M&S colleagues will have the opportunity to enrol on an 18-month data science skills programme called “The Data Fellowship”.

Data analytics skills such as R and Python will be taught and learned by participants on the programme. If they finish the programme, they will receive a Data Analytics qualification accredited by the British Computing Society.

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The Data Fellowship is funded by the billion pound government-funded Apprenticeship Levy to upskill the UK workforce.

Nick Ford, Chief Technology Evangelist at Mendix commented: “Retail is a notoriously competitive sector, so it’s no surprise to see traditional retailers such as M&S considering how to catch-up with online giants on the path to digital transformation.

“Yet, as more businesses look to launch new digital services, many complain that they can’t find enough people to make this happen. The reality, however, is often not what it seems as even legacy companies have plenty of digitally skilled people.”

Steve Rowe, Chief Executive at Marks & Spencer added: “This is our 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.

“Transformation of our business is key to survival and a huge part of this lies with our colleagues.”

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