South African data science academy targets 5000 new data scientists by 2025

Africa’s largest data science academy, Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) aims to have trained 5000 data scientists and most placed into jobs in South Africa by 2025.

The number is based on the Academy’s current trajectory, which has trained and placed close to 500 young data scientists in just two years since the launch of its 12-month data science learnership programme in January 2018.  Most of these learners come from disadvantaged backgrounds and after graduating have been placed in high demand jobs averaging R360 000 a year.

According to Shaun Dippnall, EDSA cofounder, the 2025 projection is based on the high market demand for data science skills  – growth for which the academy is ramping its facilities and resources.  This includes its online public courses.

The EDSA’s goal, through its sponsored learnerships and self-funded courses, is to address both South Africa’s chronic youth unemployment crisis – currently at 53% – as well as provide relevant skills to meet the ever-evolving demands of the digital economy.

“South Africa’s youth unemployment as well as its stretched and outdated education system, call for a radically innovative solution to address the shortage of relevant skills we need to compete globally,” Dippnall says.

“Beyond our curriculum is our conviction is that in order to have a functioning society able to compete globally, we need to build a Next-Gen institution that is world-class.  We encourage learners to reach their potential, to live their best lives and to become something more than their circumstances,” Dippnall says.

Chasing 5000 jobs

Dippnall believes EXPLORE’s target of 5000 qualified learners by 2025 is well within reach as more and more South African businesses look to data to drive growth and find their competitive edge.  The quest requires a rapid uptake in data science skills.

“There is a massive local supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills demanded by companies,” Dippnall says.

These skills are in short supply worldwide.  In a statement in January, the World Economic Forum estimated that by 2030 over one billion people worldwide would need to be reskilled to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

 “In the next two years, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change.  The world is facing a reskilling emergency,” the statement added.

Public courses

In addition to its learnerships, the EDSA has several new six-month full-time public courses in data science, data engineering and data analytics as well as machine learning at a cost of R60 000 (Inc. VAT) each.

Each course comes with the EXPLORE Money Back Promise, which guarantees candidates a job placement within six months of graduation at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000 – or their money back.

By offering the EXPLORE Money Back Promise, Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

In addition, candidates that are working can study part-time through the EDSA’s online courses.

 “Anyone at any age can learn these new skill sets we teach. Armed with them they will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

“With tens of thousands of young people eager to grasp work opportunities, plus an increasing demand for data scientists in the workplace, there now exists “a perfect storm of opportunity” to train young people with guaranteed employment,” Dippnall concludes.

Registrations for the 2021 EDSA 12-month learnership programme open in July 2020.

For information on EXPLORE Data Science Academy go to

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