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12 October, 2017 - 12:40 By Kate Sweeney

Anglia Ruskin University and Sanger Institute tackle Big Data skills crisis

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

An acute shortage of skilled professionals in the Big Data sector – a shortfall growing by 56,000 jobs a year – is being addressed through a joint initiative by Cambridge neighbours the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Anglia Ruskin University.

The partners have received funding to launch a new degree apprenticeship to help address the skills dearth.

Anglia Ruskin’s Degrees at Work team is working with the Sanger Institute to develop a data scientist course for the bioinformatics sector after winning grant support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund.

The emergence of Big Data and its use in biological research has led to a growing need for skilled professionals who can analyse and interpret biological data. Genomics in particular is a growth industry, with Deloitte reporting that the industry will expand by 20 per cent this year.

The degree apprenticeship, to be launched in September 2018, will enable employers to provide in-work training for their employees, improving their skills base and helping to address the needs of the sector.

Anglia Ruskin was supported in its grant application by several global companies involved in genetics and computational biology – many of them Cambridge-based – including Global Gene Corp, Specific Techologies, SciBite, Eagle Genomics, Congenica, and Genomics England.

Jon Bouffler, director of learning and development services at Anglia Ruskin, said: “Cambridge has a global reputation for excellence in the biotech industry. Anglia Ruskin is delighted to be working in partnership with the prestigious Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute on this innovative degree apprenticeship.

“We hope this will become a game changer for growing the talent infrastructure for the bioinformatics profession.”

Janet Scotcher, who is the director of Human Resources and organisational development at the Sanger Institute, added: “This area of work is a relatively new occupation and as such, may not be visible to many young people at the beginning of their careers.

“Already we are seeing a skills shortage in this important area, despite being acutely aware that genomics and biodata offer an incredibly diverse and promising career path for anyone.

“We hope this apprenticeship will help people in search of a rewarding career find an inspiring and fulfilling future.”

• Image courtesy – Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

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