Data Science Academy launched


Founders of the Explore Data Science Academy. From left: Shaun Dippnall, Aidan Helmbold and Dave Strugnell.

Unique recruitment approach means underprivileged young South Africans get a shot at the digital economy

2017 marked the launch of the Explore Data Science Academy, South Africa’s first exclusively data science training institution, and an opportunity for 100 young South Africans to embark on a career path described at the ‘sexiest’ of the 21st century

Kicking off the initiative was the announcement of a R50-million investment by BCX for 300 internships to the Academy’s one-year Accredited Skills Data Science Programme, over the next three years. This investment was fuelled by the growing demand for big data analytics and BCX’s recognition of the need for this skillset within the country.

“The acceleration of the digital economy means that every industry needs data science skills,” says Shaun Dippnall, cofounder of the EDSA.

“There is an estimated global shortfall in data scientists of two million. Likewise there is huge demand for these skills within corporate South Africa, which far outweighs current supply,” he added.

There are no restrictions to entry for the EDSA’s 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.

This unique approach has meant that anyone from any background with an aptitude for mathematics, statistics, problem solving and analytics may qualify for the course.

“We are particularly excited to be the first institution to offer a focused, comprehensive and free year-long accredited skills data science programme in the country that will build the relevant digital skills within our youth, so that they can thrive in the new economy,” Dippnall says.

Dippnall together with colleagues Dave Strugnell and Aidan Helmbold, founded the academy. They are all highly qualified data scientists with actuarial qualifications and experience in lecturing, research and consulting.

“Ours is a unique, one-of-a-kind course in that it is free, practical, has real-world relevance and provides work experience. We also like the fact that it is open to anyone with aptitude,” Dippnall concludes.

For more information about the Explore Data Science Academy, go to