by Andrea Smitko

The Data Sciences Institute (DSI) — a central hub and incubator for data science research, training and partnerships at U of T — hummed with excitement as participants from the first two cohorts of its new Data Science and Machine Learning Software Foundations Certificates met representatives from several organizations during an engaging in-person employer networking event.

Nearly 50 participants seized the opportunity to meet and mingle with their peers, as well as make connections with prospective employers.

With the financial support of Upskill Canada, powered by Palette Skills and the Government of Canada, the DSI Certificates are 16-week part-time intensive offerings. The Certificates are designed to train and upskill working professionals with three or more years of experience for careers in data analytics and applied machine learning.

“We just launched our Certificates a few months ago and we have had over 400 applications and over 200 participants and it is just growing — there is such a need in the community for this work,” said Lisa Strug, academic director of the DSI and professor in the Departments of Statistical Sciences and Computer Science and the Division of Biostatistics, in her opening remarks.

“These Certificates are very unique because we’ve developed them in concert with industry, so we’re making sure that the tools everybody receives are the tools that are actually needed to solve the problems that we’re seeing out there in the real world.”

Designed to be accessible and to build a more inclusive workforce, these Certificates aim to support diversifying the industry. From the first cohort, 90 per cent of participants belong to at least one underrepresented group.

The Certificates include job readiness training dedicated to career advancement and offer valuable coaching in job-seeking skills such as resume writing, interview preparation and networking.

“I really enjoyed the Certificate. Everything included in it was great. There was time to learn and to put that learning into practice,” said Certificate participant, Niyaz Nazari. “All of the associates were very professional, and I really enjoyed the job search courses. I needed to learn those soft skills. The theory is not enough, so that helped a lot.”

As part of its commitment to employment training, the DSI’s goal is for 75 per cent of participants to obtain a new role within six months of completing the Certificate.

“That’s why events like these are so important. To achieve this goal, we need to facilitate connections between organizations looking for talent with the in-demand skills we are teaching through these certificates,” said Strug.

The event welcomed nine organizations looking to hire new talent in the data sciences, including Accenture, Ontario Digital Services, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, MPAC, Ontario Health, SOCAN, MunichRe, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Yorkville University. Employers were positioned in the DSI’s event space and attendees moved throughout asking questions, pitching their skills, and inquiring about the company and potential employment opportunities.

“Of all the talks I’ve given and events I’ve been a part of, I enjoy this audience the most,” said Tristan Walsh of MunichRe. “It’s all really positive. There’s such a strong level of engagement and great insight. It’s good to see people learning and growing, and it’s so great to meet people in person.”

“The Certificate was a great experience. I want to go back and do another course,” said program participant, Ahmed Alhuraibi Alamoudi. “It was very valuable, and now I can develop a roadmap so I can improve and transition into data science and hopefully do a co-op or an internship so I can practice what I’ve learned.”


To join our next event and meet accomplished professionals with data science and machine learning skills to grow your team, please contact

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