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LSE brings data skills to the classroom and accelerates student careers with new online programme in partnership with FourthRev and Tableau

It’s no secret that industry and academia collaboration is crucial to bridging the skills gap in today’s digital economy.  When the research and education acumen offered by universities is combined with real-world industry expertise, the result can lead to more workforce-ready students who are highly desired by today’s most well known brands. 

The online Career Accelerators offered by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) are great examples of what can be achieved through academia and industry partnerships. Designed, built, and delivered in collaboration with FourthRev— a career-focused online education company— the first of these Career Accelerators focuses on data analytics, one of the most in-demand skills of 2023. It’s an industry that’s predicted to grow by 25% by 2031 – far above the 5% average.

Taught using Tableau, the world’s #1 analytics platform, the programme provides participants with data skills across several disciplines.

LSE closes the skills gap by combining teaching expertise with job-ready skills

Although LSE had a substantial offering of short courses prior to introducing online Career Accelerators, the university saw an opportunity to create a longer-form offering that would equip working professionals to change or advance their careers. Partnering with  FourthRev, the university launched the new offering in February 2022.  

“We’re driven to close the skills gap by combining the rigour and relevance of LSE teaching with applied, job-ready skills. By collaborating with industry leaders and employers, we not only integrate industry insight and experience into coursework, but ensure our programme outcomes align with expectations of work-ready abilities and help professionals develop in-demand skills,” said Professor Wim A Van der Stede, Dean for LSE Extended Education. 

The online LSE Data Analytics Career Accelerator is the first of these accelerator programmes to go live. Focusing on topics such as data visualisation, the programme provides early and mid-career professionals an advantage in today’s competitive data-driven job market.

With the world becoming ever more data-driven, a strong set of quantitative skills is invaluable in many of today’s careers. The ability to interrogate data also improves our understanding of the world which, in-turn, facilitates better decision-making.

Tableau “a natural fit” for delivering the data skills businesses need

Data exploration and visualisation with Tableau Desktop is a key component to the LSE Data Analytics Career Accelerator. 

Lauren Smirfitt, Head of Product & Customer Success at FourthRev, said Tableau was a natural choice for the programme. “Consistently and increasingly, industry is telling us they’re looking for data analysts who have demonstrable, practical skill sets and Tableau is one of the platforms where they’re looking for candidates with strong capabilities.”  

As part of the orientation module for the accelerator, participants are guided through the setup of Tableau Desktop. There’s then a full week in the programme dedicated to data visualisation. Participants are shown how to create visualisations both for exploratory analysis and for presenting insights to others.

Afterwards, participants are tasked to examine a new dataset and develop business recommendations based on the insights gained. Tableau reference documents, online Community Forums, and other resources help guide them in their approach and provide examples to inspire them and demonstrate what’s possible.

Dr. Abdey shared that one of the critical skills instilled through the programme is how to get started with a data project. “The ability to define your research questions or the problem you are hoping to answer is an important first step.”

Participants receive job offers, promotions after completing the course

The LSE Data Analytics Career Accelerator gives participants the skills and confidence to create visualisations and compelling visual stories on their own. In turn, they can better influence stakeholders and impact real change in their organisations.

Ryan Rushton, Strategic Partnerships Director at FourthRev, said that those who successfully complete the Career Accelerator are set up for the future of work in a more holistic way. “They’ve got the in-depth education they need, the university brand to back it, the practical portfolio created with industry to prove it, and the clarity that comes from career coaching to keep that momentum going.”

Past participants come from a range of disciplines—including marketing, business management, healthcare logistics, and teaching—and many go on to successfully move into data analytics careers. Others have received promotions and salary increases to stay in their current roles, after completing the accelerator. Rushton cites one success story of a job seeker who secured a role as a senior data analyst just halfway through the programme. 

“Many participants have gone on to achieve the career goals they set with a Career Coach during the programme—some even before they finished their studies. Their stories are one important way for us to determine whether we’re meeting our student’s expectations in helping them achieve their career goals,” said Rushton. 

Recognising the specific value delivered by Tableau and FourthRev, LSE plans to double the course time dedicated to data analytics in the future. Dr. Abdey also plans to incorporate Tableau into courses within the Department of Statistics, further expanding data analytics skills, and job opportunities, for his students.

In short, the impact we’ve seen so far is what we’d hoped for, but now we know it has the potential to be even greater.