SAS STEP: SAS expands free data skills training programme with data engineering pathway, providing crucial upskilling for the digital economy

The latest learning pathway will provide the core knowledge and skills required for a foundation-level data engineer, helping to bridge growing skills gaps through upskilling

Global analytics leader SAS, which supplies 88 per cent of the top 100 Fortune companies, has expanded its free online SAS STEP Programme with the addition of a data engineering learning pathway, the final one of four pathways in total.

Demand for data engineers is exploding - IT Jobs Watch states that the year-on-year “rank change” in UK demand for data engineers is +98. Recent research by SAS and Coleman Parkes found that urgent action is needed to tackle a major data science skills crisis that’s already stifling productivity and innovation in the UK and Ireland, with nearly 9 in 10 business leaders (88 per cent) saying insufficient staff with these skills is preventing them from meeting customer demands.

A data engineer takes a range of data sources and determines the most efficient way to combine and manipulate these. They use their data expertise to design and create relevant, fit for purpose data systems for a host of business applications. The role requires a blend of technical, business and interpersonal skills to understand the business requirements, identify the relevant data sources, and design innovative solutions.

The SAS STEP Programme, originally launched in March last year, is primarily aimed at those seeking employment or facing redundancy but is also open to anyone looking to make themselves more employable, including graduates, the self-employed, or those already in employment.

There are four learning pathways, from basic data literacy to advanced data science. This new module provides the core knowledge and skills required for a foundation-level data engineering role and is aligned to the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education.

Candidates will receive more than 160 hours of content with access to a range of learning resources and SAS software. The pathway provides a grounding in the key skills of programming, data development, data innovation, data integration design, data analysis and synthesis, data modelling and metadata management. A combined programme of technical know-how and essential soft skills culminates with a series of real-life case studies, enabling the learner to become a well-rounded and able data engineer.

Graduates of the SAS STEP Programme have already successfully switched careers. James Lancashire, a former youth charity worker whose role was hit by the pandemic, was able to change jobs with the help of the programme, securing a role as a Data Management Consultant at data science, AI and machine learning company, Butterfly Data.

“At Butterfly we have achieved success by embracing diversity and have a remarkable team with varied backgrounds and transferable skills. James has many of the great qualities that we look for in an employee; but most importantly, through SAS STEP, he has demonstrated the ability to adapt and learn new skills,” said Wayne Chicken, Director, Butterfly Data.

Roderick Crawford, Senior Regional VP for Northern Europe at SAS, said: “The launch of the data engineering pathway is an exciting next step for the programme and means it now offers the full suite of data skills. Data professionals are increasingly in-demand, which is something we see and hear first-hand from our partners and customers as they look to take advantage of AI and advanced analytics solutions.

“Yet we know that these skills are needed now and there are insufficient graduates to meet the demand over the next few years. That’s why it’s vital that jobseekers take advantage of free online learning programmes like SAS STEP to increase the availability of these skills and make themselves more attractive to potential employers.”

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon, said: “It is great to see businesses like SAS rise to the occasion to give people access to highly valued data skills, helping them get ahead while tackling skills shortages across multiple sectors.

“Initiatives like the SAS STEP Programme back up the Government’s critically important skills agenda, extending the ladder of opportunity to those seeking employment and supporting businesses to access the skilled workforce they need to flourish in a modern, digital economy.”

Notes to editors

You can find out more about the SAS STEP programme at and by watching this short video.

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