British Retail Consortium Data Academy

Develop your skills in data analytics, data science and AI

Data Transformation in the Retail sector

The BRC has partnered with Cambridge Spark to deliver Data Science, Analytics & AI learning programmes to bridge the Data Science and AI skills gap in the retail sector.

The UK retail industry is undergoing unprecedented change as a result of the ongoing digital transformation that has been accelerated by coronavirus. The impact of the pandemic is compounding difficulties already faced by retailers, having shed approximately 72,000 jobs in 2019 according to BRC research. However, new innovation technologies are providing retailers with an opportunity to develop and improve their offering both online and in store, allowing them to adapt in line with changing consumer behaviours. From the supply chain to the head office, the use of technology and data can make the industry more efficient, and while this may mean fewer jobs in retail, those that remain will better paid and higher skilled. Roles within the industry are changing, with more than 100,000 people employed in retail jobs that did not exist 5 years ago - a figure that is certain to increase as retailers adapt to the new roles and skillsets needed for their businesses to succeed.

With increasing competition for the data science talent that does exist (with 81% of UK businesses citing shortage of skills as a hurdle to adopting AI), retailers need to look to their existing workforce and early talent. The World Economic Forum reports that more than half of all employees globally will require significant upskilling by 2022. This is not limited to roles in technology departments, but includes roles across entire organisations. Employees in departments including HR, Finance and Marketing can all benefit from using data science skills in their existing roles to gain greater insight and drive more value for the organisation, ranging from AI enhancing supply chain forecasting through to using reinforcement learning to optimise prices.

To support retailers in this transition, the BRC and Cambridge Spark are entering a partnership to help retail professionals upskill and help secure the future of the retail industry. The partnership aims to create a full learning pathway for technical Data Science and AI training in the retail industry, including Apprenticeships and executive training. The BRC and Cambridge Spark will be working directly with retailers to develop these programmes that empower their workforce to meet business objectives. The programmes consist of applied practical learning through live workshops, real world-simulated assignments and work-based projects. Learners are also supported by a personal coach and technical mentors.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Apprenticeships provide a well-defined route for internal talent development in England. They are open to new and existing employees in full-time roles working with data. Funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, apprenticeships are a cost-effective way to upskill employees in analytics, data science and AI.

Available Programmes


Data Essentials Certificate

13-month Data Essentials Certificate (Level 3) 

Covers the core concepts, skills and tools all professionals need to be data-driven and independent in their work.

The programme is designed to empower apprentices to develop a strong understanding of the value and opportunities that are possible with the smart use of data.

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Apprentices will learn:

  • How to prepare and analyse data efficiently
  • How to visualise and present actionable data-driven insights in impactful ways
  • How to use industry-standard tools including Excel, Power BI and Tableau


This apprenticeship is for your team if they are:

  • Looking to build confidence and technical skills to work with data effectively
  • Already working with spreadsheets but want to create more value from data and improve productivity
  • Keen to learn data analysis skills that will enable them to progress into more technical, data-driven roles
  • Looking for more interesting and engaging ways to present data insights

Apprenticeship prerequisites:

To be eligible for the apprenticeship, individuals must:

  • Be in full-time employment in a relevant role
  • Have a GCSE (or equivalent) at Grade B in one STEM subject (Maths is desirable)
  • Have no prior data analysis experience (including a degree or other qualification)


Data Analyst Apprenticeship Academy

14-month Data Analyst Apprenticeship (Level 4)

Learn how to extract, manipulate and visualise data to answer complex business questions and drive strategic value, using Python, data mining and big data.

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This programme is ideal for teams who are:

  • Working with data on a regular basis (whether they’re generating reports, analysing data, or crunching numbers using spreadsheets)
  • Looking to add more strategic value that’s backed by data
  • Looking to automate the manual collation and processing of data
  • Wanting to future-proof their skill set by learning in-demand, industry-relevant skills
  • Working in a data-driven department

By the end of the programme, apprentices will be able to:

  • Programme in Python and use data analysis tools such as Pandas and Numpy, as well as work with different data formats, types and databases such as SQL
  • Use a range of analytics techniques such as data mining, time series forecasting and modelling techniques to identify and predict trends and patterns in data
  • Summarise, present and make recommendations from the results of data analysis using data visualisation
  • Quickly test and prototype code in a production environment, follow industry best practices and use collaborative workflows
  • Identify, collect and migrate to/from a range of internal and external systems and perform database queries across multiple tables to extract data for analysis
  • Understand the architecture and engineering constraints of big data systems, and how to apply tools such as Hadoop and Spark to gather, process and analyse large amounts of data


  • £15,000 (funded by the Apprenticeship Levy)
  • 5% of the cost for non-Levy paying organisations


AI Apprenticeships Academy

15-month Data Science & Machine Learning Engineer Apprenticeships (Level 7)

Learn how to discover and devise new data-driven AI solutions, automate and optimise business processes, and support, augment and enhance human decision-making.

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This programme is ideal for teams who are:

  • Are required to analyse complex datasets on a regular basis
  • Already use Python at an intermediate level and have fundamental statistics experience
  • Are looking to upskill into Data Scientist or Machine Learning Engineer roles
  • Want to champion AI and its applications within the organisation

By the end of the programme, apprentices will be able to:

  • Identify areas where AI solutions can create new business opportunities and efficiencies
  • Initiate and design new projects and develop innovative, scalable, data-driven AI solutions focussed on addressing business or customer needs and problems
  • Deliver value-creating products and processes for the business by advancing the use of data, machine learning and AI
  • Provide technical authority, direction and strategic guidance for the business on emerging opportunities and insights for AI that are relevant to business goals
  • Simplify models and deliver insights that everyone in the business can understand


  • £17,000 (funded by the Apprenticeship Levy)
  • 5% of the cost for non-Levy paying organisations

Which Apprenticeship Programme is right for you?

Data Essentials Certificate (Level 3)

  • Designed to empower apprentices to develop a strong understanding of the value and opportunities that are possible with the smart use of data.
  • Suitable for people keen to learn data analysis skills that will enable them to progress into more technical, data-driven roles
  • Apprentices must have a GCSE (or equivalent) at Grade B in one STEM subject (Maths is desirable)

Data Analyst Apprenticeship (Level 4)

  • Fast-track programme to equip apprentices with practical data analysis skills, including Python, Data visualisation, Big Data Systems and Machine Learning
  • Suitable for people in roles where they are required to carry out data analysis, such as scientists or or anyone analysing data in departments such as HR, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Supply chain, Manufacturing, Consumer Insights etc.
  • Entry-level course for beginner programmers and those with no previous programming experience

Data Science Apprenticeship (Level 7)

  • Fast-track programme for upskilling people into Data Scientist roles
  • Apprentices must have intermediate Python programming & maths skill

Machine Learning Engineer Apprenticeship (Level 7)

  • Fast-track programme for upskilling people into Machine Learning Engineer roles
  • Apprentices must have a Computer Science degree or at least two years’ experience in software engineering

Data Science in Retail case studies

“There's incredible untapped operational and data opportunities available within retail organisations to increase competitiveness. Through our partnership with BRC we are looking to upskill retail professionals so they can be an integral part of the digital revolution."

Dr Raoul-Gabriel Urma

Read how data science training helped Argos with a training plan for analysts to determine variables impacting sales in a store:

Read how training a team at Carrefour helped enhance their customers' shopping experience by enabling greater personalisation of suggested products and communications:

“Retail is one of the most innovative and vibrant industries, continuously adapting to changing consumer behaviours. The ongoing transformation driven by new technologies has been accelerated by coronavirus. As a result it is likely there will be fewer retail jobs in the future. Nonetheless, these jobs will be higher skilled and better paid. From AI experts to social media analysts to data scientists, there are now hundreds of jobs that didn’t exist ten years ago. We hope that this new partnership will provide the next generation of retailers with the skills they need to succeed in these new roles and lead the success of this exciting and dynamic industry.”

Helen Dickinson, BRC Chief Executive

Our Delivery Partner

Cambridge Spark is our chosen delivery partner for analytics, data science and AI education.

Cambridge Spark is a leader in transformational data science and AI training. Their pioneering training programmes are built on their proprietary AI-powered learning and assessment platform, EDUKATE.AI®, to accelerate the tech capability of both individuals and organisations.

Expert designed curriculum

Apprenticeship and Degree Apprenticeship Programmes are designed by Data Scientists and Data Analysts working in industry, for industry

Instant feedback 24/7 with EDUKATE.AI®

Learners are given instant feedback that’s aligned with standards such as PEP8, Pylint, Cyclomatic Complexity and Unit Tests, as well as machine learning metrics such as accuracy, F1 score, MSE and the confusion matrix.

Work-based projects and portfolios

Learners gain applied practical experience through completing real-world data problems. Programmes are focused on enabling learners to apply new skills into their work right away, driving value for the business and ensuring ROI.

Innovative virtual learning solutions

Live, instructor-led virtual learning sessions have been specifically designed for group remote learning. Training takes place over high-quality video and audio, creating a virtual classroom. Learners also have access to break out rooms, supported by Slack, where they can come together to chat, socialise and discuss the training.

Teaching & coaching from professionals

The very fabric of Cambridge Spark is deeply-rooted in academia, with the teaching and coaching team consisting of PhD’s from the UK’s best universities, and professionals with backgrounds in world-renowned Machine Learning organisations, such as Google, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, Amazon, and Morgan Stanley.

Apprenticeship FAQs

What are apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are a long-term training commitment which seek to upskill existing UK-based employees within an organisation, enabling employers to foster a workforce consisting of highly-skilled and highly-engaged talent.

They typically run over 12-24 months and include 20% off-the-job training, enabling a blended approach between theory and practical-learning.

Who is eligible for apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are open to anyone in full-time employment in England. They are open to current as well as new employees, people of any age, and even those with previous qualifications.

Apprenticeships can be for people early in their careers as well as experienced talent looking to advance their skill set or change careers, which is increasingly necessary as the world of work changes.

How are apprenticeships funded?

In England, if you are a large organisation with annual salaries over £3m you can have your apprenticeships 100% funded by the government through the apprenticeship levy. Employers who do not fall into this group can either have 95% funded by the government (and pay just 5%) or can have levy transferred from another levy-paying organisation to have them 100% funded.

What does 20% off-the-job training mean?

Off-the-job training is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the day-to-day work duties and it must take place within the apprentice’s normal working hours.

It can be delivered on a flexible basis, for example, as part of each day, one day per week, one week out of five or as block release, and can be carried out at the apprentice’s place of work or from home.

The 20% off-the-job training provides learners with the time to focus and develop the required skills, knowledge and behaviours to achieve the apprenticeship

Register your interest in our Apprenticeships