Data school drives the development of data science skills in SA

In 2020, the Mazars data school was born from a vision to take unemployed graduates enrolled in the YES programme and train them to become data analysts and data scientists. This future-focused and youth-empowering initiative was spearheaded by Anoop Ninan, Country Managing Partner of Mazars in South Africa, and continues to upskill candidates in the field of data science.

Across the world, data science is one of the fastest-growing industries as more companies embrace the possibilities that Artificial Intelligence (AI) presents. The analysis of data assists various divisions in an organisation and helps them to better understand the markets and customers they serve. According to a global survey by McKinsey titled ‘The State of AI 2020’, companies who get the most value out of AI are also the ones who invest in AI-related talent such as data engineers and data architects. 

Against this backdrop of a growing industry and the need for experts in this field, Mazars saw an opportunity to equip the next generation with the skills to carve a career in data science. The diverse nature of Mazars also allows candidates to explore other career options in accountancy, auditing and other financial services while attending the Mazars data school. 

The main vision of the data school

For Mazars, the primary objective of this initiative is to improve the lives of South African youth and help build communities. This is done through the skills development of young individuals who, without work experience, who struggle to find a job in the open market. 

While receiving specialised training at Mazars, candidates will also gain experience in IT audit. They will also get the opportunity to assist a wide range of divisions within Mazars. Ultimately, the desired outcome of this programme is to empower candidates with the skills to work as data experts in any industry they wish to work in. Where possible, Mazars will try to retain candidates within the company or refer candidates to clients. 

The coursework and curriculum 

The data analysts will complete courses in Microsoft SQL, Azure and Power BI among others. The data scientists will receive training in Python, Microsoft SQL, PostgreSQL, Azure and Kafka to name a few. Each respective training block will conclude with an exam by Microsoft and will allow candidates the opportunity to obtain Microsoft Certification. 

While students will be trained to become data analysts and data scientists, they will also be exposed to a multitude of divisions within Mazars such as External Audit, Internal Audit, Forensics, Taxation and Corporate Finance. Since Mazars is an auditing firm, students will be given an overview of accounting and auditing to help them better understand the industry. They will then go on to focus on courses in IT Audit, data analytics and data science. 

The application process

The data school is open to students who have studied a course in Mathematics, Information Technology, Informatics, Financial Accounting or Auditing at either secondary or tertiary level.

Candidates can apply to the programme online or by forwarding their CV to Mazars’ HR department. Applications open in September and shortlisted candidates will be invited to a formal interview process that takes place over the course of October, November and early December. The official programme starts on the 1st of January and runs for one year.

Candidates who were previously registered on a YES programme can unfortunately not apply and preference will be given to employment equity candidates.