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Online course to help source sought-after data engineers

Africa’s largest data science academy EXPLORE Data Science Academy has added Data Engineering to its online training offerings.

Starting 18 January 2021, the 12-month course will provide applicants with the specific skill set required to become data engineers - a key role in the successful digital transformation of a business, according to the academy.

Shaun Dippnall, CEO of EXPLORE, explains, “The use of vast quantities of data by data scientists now requires those with a specialised skill set to organise data and ensure its quality, security and availability to the organisation. These are data engineers.”

According to Dippnall apart from the skill set, there is a shortage of training courses online that offer both the content and practical application of data engineering skills required in the work place. This is particularly true of the South African market.

“In the digital world of today data engineering has become a specific job category as the amount of data produced by businesses engaged in digital transformation, increases exponentially,” Dippnall says.

Two distinct roles

“Today’s businesses produce new types of data in vast quantities. While data scientists have traditionally been expected to build the necessary infrastructure and data pipelines to do their work, the volume and speed of data production has resulted in the roles of data scientist and data engineer becoming separate and distinct,” he says.

“It is now recognised that companies need both data scientists and data engineers in an advanced analytics team. Naturally there is frequent collaboration between the two roles but their skills sets and tools remain different,” he adds.

According to EXPLORE Data Science Academy, essentially, data engineers design and build pipelines that transform and transport data into a format so that, by the time it reaches the data scientists, it is usable. These pipelines take data from numerous sources and collect them into a single warehouse that presents the data uniformly as a single source.

Datacentre stimulus

The importance of data engineering is underscored by the fact that two of the world’s largest cloud computing hyper scalers - Microsoft and Amazon - have recently established datacentres in South Africa.

Microsoft launched two Azure cloud datacentres in South Africa in 2019 to tap into the growing demand for hyperscale cloud infrastructure and services in the region. While Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region - the company’s first in Africa – in April last year.

According to AWS, the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region will stimulate innovation across the country. “South African organisations from start-ups to enterprise and the public sector now have infrastructure in their country to leverage advanced technologies such as Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Database, and Internet of Things (IoT).

Further, the addition of the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region will enable organisations to provide lower latency to end users across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Explosive growth expected

“These critical developments by two of the world’s largest corporations underline just how important the data warehousing is in the modern digital environment. Customers can now store their data in South Africa with the assurance that they can retain complete ownership of it,” says Dippnall.

The EXPLORE Data Engineering course requires applicants to have a basic analytical background and will involve ten hours of study a week.

Relevant jobs

“We at EXPLORE have always been aware of the need to create jobs for talented and hard-working young South Africans,” Dippnall says.

According to research from International Data Corporation, spending on public cloud services in South Africa will nearly triple over five years from 2017 to 2022.

“Crucially for us, this study estimates that the exponential adoption of cloud services will generate 112 000 net new jobs in South Africa by the end of 2022. For us at EXPLORE, that is reason enough to introduce this new course,” he concluded.

Ongoing skills investment

In October 2020 Imvelo Ventures – a venture capital investment company founded by Capitec Bank and Empowerment Capital Investment Partners – announced it will invest approximately R11 million over three years in the University of Western Cape’s (UWC’s) data science programmes.

According to the varsity, there is global demand for data scientists to, among other things, solve business-related problems using data-driven techniques.

In November 2020 ITWeb reported on the findings of the Harambee Mapping of Digital and ICT Roles and Demand for South Africa Survey, released by social enterprise Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator.

According to the survey, digital skills and services have the potential to pave the way for over 66 000 jobs in SA’s ICT sector over the next year, two-thirds of which are entry-level roles.

EXPLORE Data Science Academy says course attendees will learn:

· SQL basics,

· Python programming,

· Data modelling

· Cloud computing

To these will be added specific data architecture skills such as:

· Big data concepts

· Data warehousing and lakes,

· Data automation.

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