Massey University and SAS bolster NZ analytics training

Published on the 21/08/2018 | Written by Heather Wright


Massey University

Health and public policy analytics join business analytics in Massey Uni lineup...

Business analytics software provider SAS is continuing to put its money where it’s mouth is, ramping up its efforts with Massey University to alleviate a shortage of analytics talent, with an expanded relationship seeing the addition of two new analytics programmes to the University’s curriculum.

SAS and Massey first partnered up in 2015 with a deal that was the first of its kind in New Zealand, providing Master of Analytics students with SAS certification credentials, research funding and internship opportunities at Australasian firms.

“Finding the right data and analysing it for decision making is only productive if you can present the outcomes to your stakeholders, effectively.”

The newly expanded relationship adds SAS support for two new programmes, adding a Master of Analytics in Health and Master of Analytics in Public Policy to the original Master of Analytics in Business.

SAS New Zealand general manager Geoff Beynon, says “The world is facing a serious shortage of qualified data scientists and New Zealand is not immune.”

The untangling of our growing volumes of data has made data science and analytics a hot market, with IBM forecasting the market to balloon to more than US$187 billion within two years, but, as is often the case in technology, skills aren’t keeping up with demand, with McKinsey predicting a shortage of 250,000 data scientists this year.

Beynon says Massey University’s expanded Masters programme is an important move in addressing a fast growing need.

“As increasing numbers of organisations in both the private and public sectors seek to exploit the power of advanced analytics for improve decision making, Massey graduates with SAS skills and certification will find ready career openings.”

Professor Leo Paas, Massey University analytics programme leader, says there is a ‘real need’ for analytics in the health and public policy sectors, whether to improve services like the placement of ambulances or to better identify tax fraud.

“We expect steady growth in student numbers as [the new health and public policy streams] become established,” Paas says.

The partnership sees SAS providing sponsorship and research funding – which can be used at Massey’s discretion in the pursuit of furthering the understanding of analytics – as well as arranging student internships at Australasian companies and enabling students to qualify for SAS certification credentials.

The company provides both free and low-cost SAS licenses for teaching purposes.

Of the 120 students in the programme to date, 60 have already graduated.

Graduate Stefan Poninghaus, who spent his internship at FIRST Digital and is now with the company full-time in the role of digital data scientist, says exposure to the real-world SAS environment as an intern helped him understand the importance of good communication in business.

“Finding the right data and analysing it for decision making is only productive if you can present the outcomes to your stakeholders, effectively. That’s what employers want from their analysts.”

SAS has similar programmes in place with Auckland University of Technology and Australia’s University of Melbourne Business School.

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