Explore Data Science Academy spreads its wings abroad

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 14 Nov 2019

The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) will soon offer students and adults across the globe the opportunity to enrol in its locally-developed online data science courses.

The academy, based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, bills itself as the largest data science academy in Africa. It was founded in 2017 by data scientists Shaun Dippnall, Dave Strugnell and Aidan Helmbold.

According to the academy, the new international online offering comprises a series of focused courses that will teach data science, data engineering, data analytics and machine learning.

The move follows the introduction of what it calls SA's first online data science course for high school pupils, which made its debut in January.

Dippnall explains the expansion is fuelled by the tremendous shortage of data scientists across the globe.

“It is well known that data science is one of the fastest growing careers across the world. We at Explore are working with a number of leading UK-based and European businesses, including Thames Water, Nordic Guarantee as consultants. We have even had some of our EDSA graduates start working internationally.

“Our initial focus country for these short courses will be the UK, but we are also targeting the US and Australia. We have plans to establish a campus, similar to our Cape Town and Braamfontein facilities, in the UK.”

The online courses start late in January 2020 and will run between three and 12 months. Costs range from R4 000 for the data science for high school course, to R30 000 for the three-month professional skills course.

According to job sites Indeed and Dice, the demand for data science skills is growing exponentially. A January Indeed report reflected a 29% increase in data scientist job postings year-on-year and a 344% increase since 2013.

The EDSA is part of the Explore organisation. In 2018, its first year of operation, the academy trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.

This year, the number increased to 400, and in 2020, the academy plans to train no fewer than 500 students across its three campuses.

Founding sponsor BCX has invested R50 million over three years, while the country’s major banks have also made substantial investments.

"There is no reason why we should limit our reach to SA. Many countries across the world are experiencing similar patterns of demand for data scientists that cannot be met by existing training providers. We believe that we can meet some of this demand with our online courses,” concludes Dippnall.