Marks & Spencer is creating a data academy to train staff in every area of the business in data skills, as part of its ongoing transformation programme.
M&S is working with Decoded, a London-based education business that specialises in digital skills training, on the initiative, which is the first retail-specific data academy of its kind by a publicly listed retailer.
Staff will have the opportunity to enrol on an 18-month in-work data science skills programme called The Data Fellowship. They will receive a data-analytics qualification upon completion, accredited by the British Computer Society.
The leadership team will embark on a Data Leadership programme, covering areas including machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The retailer anticipates that more than 1,000 employees will benefit from the new data skills initiative, funded by the government’s apprenticeship levy.
Chief executive Steve Rowe said the move is M&S’s biggest digital investment in its employees to date.
“Transformation of our business is key to survival and a huge part of this lies with our colleagues. We need to change our digital behaviours, mindsets and our culture to make the business fit for the digital age and our partnership with Decoded will enable us to do this.”
Kathryn Parsons, founder of Decoded, added: “This is a pioneering and inspiring commitment to lifelong learning and future-facing skills. Every leader in business today should take note. Education is the answer to the fourth industrial revolution.”