Developing a sustainable data science workforce


Recognising the growing need for skilled Data Scientists in the national security sector, the Data to Decisions CRC has launched the Big Data Future Workforce Program.

A key component of this program is the National Security Big Data PhD scholarship program which is aimed at supporting research projects focused on solving real world Big Data challenges faced by the national security sector. The scholarships offer a market leading top-up of $30,000 per year for three years, which when combined with an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship, equates to a minimum of $57,000 per year, allowing students to delve into their research with strong financial support. In addition to this funding, the scholarships offer placements with industry and government, networking, access to otherwise unavailable data sets, development opportunities and the ability to participate in an exchange program.

“The D2D CRC already has a very successful PhD program with over 37 students working on challenging and innovative topics of relevance to the broader big data sector. However, after further discussions with our national security partners, we felt the need to develop an unparalleled PhD program to attract the brightest and best students to work on research topics of direct relevance to the national security sector” said Sanjay Mazumdar, CEO D2D CRC.

 The Big Data Future Workforce program also offers many developmental opportunities to encourage students to gain entrepreneurial skills on top of their research skills. During 2016 the D2D CRC PhD students undertook workshops on ‘Creativity and Design Thinking’ as well as a workshop on ‘How to Pitch Ideas’.

“We are aware of the importance to Australia’s future of encouraging and developing students within the field of Big Data” said D2D CRC Education and Training Manager, Megan Prideaux. “In particular, we are keen to foster not only technical expertise, but leadership, collaboration and entrepreneurial skills.”

The final component of the Big Data Future Workforce program is a series of work placements and exchanges. Placements and exchanges aim to provide students with the opportunity to apply and extend their research while learning about the national security industry. Students are also able to gain hands-on experience, enhance their networks and gain further career opportunities. Organisations hosting students will benefit from motivated and intelligent students who can bring innovative and fresh perspectives. Supporting students on work placements or exchanges also provides a gateway to attractive future recruits. Placements run from 12 – 16 weeks whilst exchanges will typically run from 4-8 weeks.

The program is available to high-calibre students across the D2D CRC’s partner universities – the University of South Australia, University of Adelaide, University of New South Wales, University of Technology Sydney, Deakin University, La Trobe University and Australian National University. Research topics cover a range of areas including machine learning, predictive analytics, knowledge graph creation, natural language processing, image and video understanding, visualisation and open source data analytics.

 The program forms part of D2D CRC’s mission to develop a sustainable data science workforce. This is also being achieved through Honours Scholarships, Internships, Professional Development and a Data Science Competency Program.


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