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01 March 2024

College lecturer Rik shortlisted for Jisc Community Champion Award

Edinburgh College lecturer Rik Weightman has been shortlisted by Jisc as a finalist in their prestigious Community Champions Awards for his work in widening access to Digital and Data Skills across Edinburgh and the Lothians.  

Rik, who delivers Data and Digital Skills courses through the Data Skills Gateway programme funded by the Edinburgh and South East City Region Deal, has been named a finalist for his key role in delivering two programmes aimed at upskilling and reskilling people with knowledge and skills needed to embark on a new career in Digital and Data Science.  

Women in Digital and Data Innovation 

The Women in Digital and Data Innovation programme focuses on upskilling and reskilling women in data science, offering pathways to further education at Edinburgh Napier University or support into employment. It aims to address the existing gender gap in tech industries by nurturing data science skills alongside transferable meta skills competencies. 

Upon completion, participants receive a Scottish Qualification Authority certification, bolstering their credentials in the competitive job market. The initiative not only strives for gender balance in data-related roles but also advocates for intersectional equality across the sector. The course’s emphasis on data literacy and essential skills like communication and problem-solving aligns with the increasing demand for these such competencies in today's data-driven world.  

Access Data Skills – Life, Learning and Work 

The Access Data Skills – Life, Learning and Work supports unemployed people and those on low incomes to learn Data Science and Digital Skills. This is done through a series of courses which provide one-to-one support, group-work, tutored classes and work experience – aiming to facilitate access to higher education, training and employment. The programme also develops essential core skills such as communication, ICT and problem solving and offer individual support that aims to alleviate wider personal barriers. 

It is an honour to have been shortlisted for these awards, and to have been put forward by my peers at the College, however as with the numerous nominations and awards that Data Education in Colleges have received, this is very much a team effort. David Hiddleston and myself are honoured to work with such committed and engaged students and are nothing short of humbled at some of the work that they have produced. We have seen some of our students dealing with and managing to overcome a range of challenges including: seeking refuge from Ukraine; additional support needs; and juggling work, family and still managing to produce fantastic work. It is a pleasure and privilege to design and deliver these courses, and to see the difference they are making in terms of encouraging underrepresented groups to consider a career in tech and giving them the skills and confidence to pursue that dream.
Rik Weightman, Edinburgh College lecturer