Soft skills

UCD Professional Academy, SAS launch job seekers programme

Offering opportunity for the unemployed to acquire in-demand data skills
Image: Stockfresh

21 April 2021

The SAS STEP Programme has been launched in Ireland following a partnership between the UCD Professional Academy and SAS.

The free digital learning programme was designed to aid post-pandemic economic recovery by training jobseekers in much sought-after data skills, with the aim of finding them employment. It is aimed at those seeking employment or are currently furloughed.

Together, the UCD Professional Academy and SAS have designed tailored course content that will be delivered online with both self-paced learning and live classes delivered by UCD Professional Academy lecturers. SAS and UCD will be providing possible routes into employment for alumni, and will look to partner other organisations to place candidates into job roles.




The programme, designed to reinvigorate the nation’s workforce with in-demand data skills, comprises four learning pathways. Today marks the launch of the foundational data literacy pathway, along with the data analyst course. Further data engineering and the more advanced data science pathways will be released later in the year. As part of the course, candidates will receive hands-on, industry-leading training through a tailored software portal, allowing users to practice, apply and embed increasingly vital data and analytical skills.

These skills are in high demand and recent research conducted by Vanson Bourne revealed that 71% of businesses believe a sufficient level of data literacy is now ‘very important’ or ‘essential’ when it comes to hiring candidates. Data skills were already in high demand before the pandemic – more than 92% believe remote working and increased reliance on technology has amplified the need for these skills at least to some extent.

Candidates participating in the programme will be able to choose from a wide range of resources including coding challenges, guided case studies, dedicated mentors, and live web classes, allowing them to quickly increase their attractiveness to prospective employers.

“SAS STEP represents a golden opportunity to improve your data skills or even retrain for a career at the cutting edge of innovation across industries, following a challenging year for many in terms of job security,” explained Roderick Crawford, vice president & country manager, SAS UK & Ireland.

“A key aspect of the programme is providing important skills that are in high demand, making candidates more employable. For some it may even offer a pathway to a lucrative and enduring career, as data analytics and AI are increasingly shaping the major decisions being taken in the world today. It is therefore our intention to place candidates into employment in as many cases as possible, both internally and across our extensive network of customers in search of these skills.”

Aaron McKenna, director of the UCD Professional Academy, said: “Retraining people for the ‘new normal’ is easily said and often difficult to get to grips with. SAS STEP is a practical and actionable programme that the UCD Professional Academy is proud to help bring to Ireland. It will also be essential in the years ahead to plug the skills gap in data analytics, so we feel we are helping to deliver a double dose of good news for both individuals and the wider economy.”

The UCD Professional Academy trained more than 5,500 students in the past year, while SAS supplies advanced analytics to 90% of the top 100 Fortune companies.

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