Forget Silicon Valley, the Future of AI Could Be in the Valleys of Wales

As the pandemic continues to hamper recruitment activities and
risks a lost generation of talented graduates needed to aid
Wales’ economic recovery, the CEO and technology strategists from
Microsoft have praised the launch of a Fast-Track
Data and AI Graduate Programme and its promise to develop Welsh
talent pools that allow employers to fortify their businesses with
the latest innovation.

The Fast-Track Data and AI Graduate Programme has been
specifically designed by the Welsh Contact Centre
(WCCF) in collaboration with industry, to allow
Welsh businesses to recruit new talents who can accelerate the
development of new data-driven services.

As lockdowns and social distancing measures continue, businesses
in every sector are now pursuing new ways of working and
recruiting. This unprecedented industry demand has resulted in the
Programme attracting some of the most recognisable names in Wales,
including Admiral, and
Principality Building Society.

The eight-month Programme, which is part-funded by the
European Social Fund via Welsh Government, has
been created to address the specific data challenges faced by Welsh
businesses today. While they are deployed within businesses, the
Programme provides graduates with additional specialist training in
transformative digital services, skills that can be immediately
utilised by their employers.

Keynote speakers at the virtual event to launch the Fast-Track
Data and AI Graduate Programme included, Deputy Minister for
Economy, Lee Waters; Chief Executive of renowned
insurance and financial service site, Louise
; and Microsoft’s Technology Strategist,
Andrew Bourne.

Speaking to graduates and the consortium of businesses at the
event, Chief Executive of, Louise O’Shea emphasised
the necessity of establishing and growing specialist data talent
pools to support Welsh businesses. She said: “Data is valuable,
but what is far more valuable, is having people who can transform
data into meaning.

“Skills in big data and analytics are most in-demand – in
fact, the UK needs right now at least 16,000 specialists to fill
this gap. This is why it’s so important that programmes like the
Fast-track Data and AI graduate programme exist – so that
students and employers can bridge the skills gap together.

“Those who seize the opportunity to develop their data science
skills are carving out resilient and prosperous career
opportunities for themselves. There’s never been a better time
than now to be part of a programme that will shape our local and
world economy.”

Digital transformation and cloud technologies present challenges
and opportunities for business operating in every sector.

Andrew Bourne, Technology Strategist at Microsoft, said: “Data
is one of the key driving forces behind the digital revolution and
the proliferation of connected devices will only lead to its
continuous growth. It’s the oil of the 21st century and the new
competitive advantage. If you own the data, you own the future.

“Taking that data and doing something with it to bring new
insights is what is important to maximise business impact and
innovation. The journey these graduates are going to take and the
skills they’ll learn are going to put them right at the heart of
this revolution.”

The Programme will see 14 budding data and AI professionals,
selected from a pool of top STEM graduates, kick-start their
careers with some of Wales’ biggest brands including: Admiral,
Amber Energy, Atradius,,
Optimum Credit,, Vauxhall Finance,
Principality Building Society, Indigo Telecom and

Throughout the Programme graduates will be provided with the
latest industry training covering AI, big data, machine & deep
learning and upon completion, will see them gain a post-graduate
diploma, delivered by the University of South

The Programme has been designed to ensure graduates stay at the
forefront of the ever-changing landscape of the data and AI
industry, and in turn, provides businesses with the in-demand
skills needed to thrive in the sector.

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee
said: “Technology is moving at a pace never seen
before and the coronavirus pandemic has only served to underline
the critical need for businesses to adopt digital into their ways
of working so they can operate more efficiently, more flexibly and
respond to ever-changing demands including the need for increased
remote working.

“We know that the vast majority of jobs now require at least
some element of digital skills and we are working hard to build
capacity here in Wales.

“This Welsh Government supported Fast-Track Data and AI
Graduate Programme is an important part of that effort and will
provide new and exciting opportunities for businesses and

Welsh tech sector is already thriving in Wales
, but we must
keep building on that success and continuously strive to innovate
and lead. I wish each and every graduate on the programme the very
best for an interesting, exciting, and rewarding career.”

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Forget Silicon Valley, the Future of AI Could Be in the Valleys of
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