The Alliance and its members are striving to build capacity in health data research. While there are ongoing initiatives tackling skills gaps in data science, more work is needed to ensure the UK has the skilled and representative workforce it needs to flourish. 

There are several Alliance member organisations already involved in capacity-building initiatives, including: 

  • Research Data Scotland (RDS) provides a catalogue of data sources along with essential information that researchers need to know, such as security requirements, use restrictions, access requirements, timescales, to help researchers navigate their way through these factors. 
  • The Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) aims to improve health outcomes by enabling those who commission, deliver and receive healthcare to measure and improve our healthcare services. They provide an online or eLearning platform, which includes free to use education packages on subjects related to clinical audit and to healthcare quality improvement, and data access resources for researchers 
  • NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is a leader in educational design, delivery and quality assurance. Utilising the very best in technology enabled learning, organisational and leadership development, workforce and learning analytics and digital development, across the entire health and social care workforce and in every community in Scotland. 

The challenge 

Health data research faces a serious skills shortage, which hampers the UK’s ambition to be a world leader in the field. 

The shift from the model of data release to data access via trusted research environments (TREs), has led to a growing demand for building capability to manage TREs, along with an increasing need to carry out federated analyses. There is also a gap in more general data management skills, such as data curation and pseudonymization, which needs to be addressed.  

At the same time there is serious under-representation of some socio-economic groups – for example from Black people. 

A diverse workforce, representative of the population it serves, is better equipped to carry out the research needed to improve healthcare and encourage innovation. 

Health data research is also a new and swiftly developing area, so it is essential to identify and fill skills gaps by providing ready access to high quality learning and training so people can enter the field or progress their careers. 

The solution 

Capacity Building is a core workstream for the Alliance – with a focus on addressing skills gaps influencing changes for improvement in education and professional development. 

Black Internship Programme 

We work collaboratively on valuable initiatives like the HDR UK Black Internships Programme (BIP), aimed at addressing the skills gap in emerging black data scientists.  

Data Scientists 

Many Alliance members have acted as BIP hosts, offering paid summer placements that empower talented and motivated people to kickstart their careers. To date, 31% of the Alliance membership have hosted at least one intern.   

This joint initiative between the Alliance and HDR UK provides interns with hands on experience in carrying out a practical real-world project. It also gives hosts access to a pool of excellent potential recruits from diverse backgrounds. 

If you are interested in becoming a BIP host organisation please contact 

TRE Capabilities  

The Alliance is also interested in exploring and identifying the requirements in skills, training and knowledge across TREs and Alliance data custodians to ensure they have the appropriate capability to meet the ongoing challenges and changes to technology in this sector.  

Contact us to get involved in shaping this workstream. 

Training Courses 

Alliance members contribute to the development of the HDR UK Futures online training and learning platform, by providing expertise and co-producing useful resources and videos. 

HDR UK Futures offers expert-led bite-sized video-based courses in a wide range of subjects, so people can study wherever and whenever they like. Futures along with the other training and learning opportunities (from apprenticeships, internships, scholarships and fellowships to online and in-person courses) enable health data science professionals to continually update their skills and knowledge. 

Our members, and their staff, also benefit from a wide range of professional development training and learning events and activities, many are CPD accredited. 

To find keep in touch with the latest training and learning opportunities sign up for the monthly HDR UK newsletter.