100 data science interns to tackle Cape Town water shortages

Johannesburg - One hundred interns from South Africa’s first data science academy in Cape Town will tackle "real world problems" - the first, the city’s water shortages. 

Telkom’s information and communications technology subsidiary, BCX sponsored almost R50m in investment in 300 free year-long internships, scheduled to take place, over the next three years.

The Explore Data Science Academy first centre will be opened in Woodstock, in Cape Town, with the investment fuelled by the growing demand for big data analytics skillset within the country.

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The academy is the brainchild of founders Shaun Dippnall, Dave Strugnell and Aidan Helmbold, all qualified data scientists with actuarial qualifications and experience in lecturing, research and consulting. 

“The students will be placed in an environment where they will face real world problems, the first being the Cape Town water-shortages, where students will use data science to solve the issue. The results will then be presented to local government,” Dippnall told Fin24.

He added that the demand for skills in data science was growing exponentially.

“Data science is being used to solve problems across industries, around the world. There a massive demand for skills in coding and understanding algorithms,” he said. 

Dippnall added that coding skills would become vital to any person beginning a career, within the next 3 to 5 years. 

“Most corporate skills will soon require people have at least basic coding knowledge and an understanding of coding knowledge,” he told Fin24. 

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Through the academy, the first 100 free internships will be awarded to successful applicants of the academy’s one-year Accredited Skills Data Science Programme, commencing January 2018. 

There are no restrictions to entry for the one-year course, nor are formal qualifications required. Applicants should be between 17 and 35 years of age and must pass a challenging aptitude test on the academy’s website.

Successful candidates will spend the year between the classroom, on-the-job training and team-based project work.

While job placement at the end of the year is not guaranteed, Dippnall is confident that uptake of candidates will be strong given the shortage of skills. Stipends are available to cover the living expenses of successful candidates who are in financial need.

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