Enginuity funds scholarships in AI and Data Science




Enginuity News , Enginuity Update


Meeting the opportunities and challenges of AI

AI is set to be among the most disruptive developments of the century. It will unlock massive potential in STEM – with the UK’s AI market expected to be worth £803.7bn by 2035 – but will also pose unprecedented challenges to the sector and individuals working within it.

At Enginuity, we combine occupational and skills data with our deep understanding of engineering and manufacturing to assess and address the UK sector’s skills gaps. We foresee a significant demand for AI and data science skills in the near future.

High-level digital skills will be key to developing and implementing the technologies, products, and services that will power the future economy, but meeting demand for them will require a diversification of the current AI and data science workforce, both in terms of demographics, and vocational backgrounds.

That’s why we’re proud to fund two scholarships and support a further six scholars at Teesside University as part of the Office for Students’ Postgraduate Conversion Course scholarship programme. 

Why fund scholarships in AI and data science?

Teesside was among 30 UK institutions selected by the Office for Students to receive £8.1m of funding from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and the Office for Artificial Intelligence, and in 2023 launched 20 scholarships to help students from underrepresented backgrounds study postgraduate degrees in AI and data science. 

In keeping with our mission to close the UK’s skills gaps, Enginuity partnered with the university to fund two of the scholarships. With the Office for Students and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport then funding an additional three scholarships for each of them, we have been able to help eight scholars gain skills in AI and data science.

“As an engineering skills charity, the scholarship programme has completely aligned with our charitable aims in helping engineering enterprises gain access to much-needed skills and talent, while providing new career opportunities for those accessing the scholarship,” says Ann Watson, Chief Executive of Enginuity.

“It is fantastic that these scholarships have been supported by industry partners, helping to ensure that we are developing the skills base needed to support business in the 21st century,” adds Professor Chistina Jayne, Dean of the School of Computing, Engineering & Digital Technologies.

Diversity is good for engineering and manufacturing

The Enginuity-funded scholarships form part of the Office for Students’ Postgraduate Conversion Course programme, which had already delivered 2,500 graduates into the UK AI and data science workforce by autumn 2023, and awarded more than 950 scholarships to students from under-represented backgrounds.

Enginuity is excited to help fund scholarships for the programme because we know the impact greater diversity can have on the sector, and how badly it’s needed. At present, only 12% of engineers are women, 9% are from ethnic minority backgrounds, and 11.5% are from areas with the lowest HE participation – all of which are below the averages across other sectors. Diverse teams are more able to meet new challenges because they have access to a broad range of skills, experience, and perspectives. With the engineering and manufacturing sector having to keep up with rapidly advancing technologies and the unprecedented demands of the Net Zero transition, diversity is key to future success.

That’s why we’re pleased to say that of the 16 scholarships that have so far been allocated to Teesside candidates – all of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds – 6 are male, and 10 are female.

“AI has advanced at a tremendous pace over the last 18 months or so, and the heavily regulated pharmaceutical industry I work within has not yet been able to fully realise the huge potential for innovation,” says scholarship recipient Emily Bevington,  who is completing an MSc Applied Artificial Intelligence at Teesside. Students like Emily will help their industries realise that potential.

Helping kick-start careers in engineering and manufacturing

These scholarships don’t just benefit the engineering and manufacturing sector. They benefit individuals by giving talented people of all backgrounds the opportunity to reach their true potential.

"I grew up in a low-income family in Teesside and went to Teesside University,” explains Ann Watson. “I was able to go to University because at that time there were no tuition fees. If things had been different then I would have needed something like a scholarship to continue my education. I can personally understand what a big difference these scholarships make."

Reskilling in fields of the future such as AI and data science will give the next generation of workers the tools they need to build successful careers, and scholarships like those funded by Enginuity offer that opportunity to students who otherwise might not have the chance. “I want to be at the frontier of [the AI] revolution,” says Emma Bevington. “By being awarded a scholarship, I’ve been able to balance work and family commitments without the added stress of financial burden, grow my skill set, and connect with a diverse and supportive cohort of peers.”

Final thoughts

We at Enginuity are proud to fund scholarships that will benefit the engineering and manufacturing industry, as well as launching the careers of tomorrow’s high-skilled workers. But it’s in the interest of the whole sector to encourage upskilling and help improve diversity in the workforce. Available data from the first interim report on the Postgraduate Conversion Course Scholarship programme demonstrates a positive return on investment on scholarships, making skills development a virtuous circle that will benefit workers, employers, and society as a whole.

To learn more about the programme’s success, read the Office for Students’ interim evaluation here.