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University of Nottingham launches new Centre to boost students’ digital skills

Friday, 03 March 2023

The University of Nottingham has launched a Digital Centre of Excellence to equip students with the skills needed to boost their employability and meet the digital skills shortage in the UK labour market.

Nottingham University Business school is working with some of the world’s leading business software providers, SAP and Microsoft, to provide students with the qualifications they need for an increasingly digital world.

The school is offering internationally recognised Microsoft and SAP professional certifications either free or at significant discount to University of Nottingham students, which they can study alongside their degree. SAP stands for systems, applications and products in data processing. SAP is the world's leading cloud-based business software and is used by 171 million users in 180 countries.

75 per cent of employers surveyed for the World University Rankings 2020 reported a shortage in digital skills, and 66 per cent of employers want to see graduates achieve professional qualifications as well as their main degree, according to the Chartered Management Institute.

Professor Andrew Callaghan of Nottingham University Business School, said: “We are increasingly seeing the expectation from employers that graduates should be able to arrive on their first day with the digital capabilities necessary to work in a modern, often hybrid or remote working environment. To really get ahead, graduates will also need at least a working knowledge of technologies such as data, AI and Cloud."

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The Digital Centre of Excellence is designed to help digitally futureproof our students and enhance their career prospects. We pair functional business skills from our degree programmes with digital skills that are in high demand to make sure our students stand out in the job market.
Dr Andrew Callaghan, Professor of Strategy and Digital Transformation

Increasingly, Nottingham University Business School degrees integrate market-leading digital systems across the course so that students become familiar with the types of systems they are likely to use in the workplace. The Digital Centre of Excellence now means that students from across the university can gain globally recognized professional qualifications relevant to their intended careers, building competencies in high-demand technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data and analytics.

Annabel Mair, a fourth-year Management student at the university has just returned from a placement year at Microsoft. She said: “During my time on placement, I completed 3 Microsoft certifications (Azure, Azure AI and M354) which provided me with a strong fundamental understanding of the technology used to run companies across the world and increased my confidence when applying back to Microsoft's graduate scheme. During my final year I have been using the digital skills platform to maintain my skills and start learning the Dynamics CRM fundamental so that on return to Microsoft I can hit the ground running and start making an impact early on."


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I couldn't recommend learning the certifications enough, technology is crucial to so many businesses and customers in our society. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to continue learning about these technologies back at university.
Annabel Mair, fourth year Nottingham University Business School student

Julian Bond, Head of ICT at Hillarys Blinds, said: “The Digital Centre of Excellence at the University of Nottingham is an exciting initiative for business as it equips graduates with highly-prized SAP and Microsoft skills. SAP remains the world’s biggest producer of enterprise applications and yet is virtually ignored by universities. There has been much talk over the last decade about the higher education sector doing a better job of equipping graduates in general with the digital skills that employers require. However, UK businesses have seen little sign of increased supply, particularly in key enterprise-class technologies such as SAP.

"As graduates of Nottingham University Business School enter the world of work, the value of their degree certificate will be significantly enhanced by knowledge of SAP and Microsoft technologies demonstrated by industry-recognised certifications. Hillarys is one of a number of organisations using SAP and Microsoft technology looking to add their experience to the Digital Centre of Excellence to significantly improve the pool of graduate talent with business-relevant digital skills.”

The new Digital Centre of Excellence has been created to:

  1. Support the integration of digital partner technology into existing and new taught courses
  2. Support integrated student assessments
  3. Support students engaged in digital partner certifications
  4. Provide a physical teaching space for modules with digital content
  5. Support digital partner curriculum development
  6. Support partners, customers and the local economy

A SAP Next-Gen Lab will be the first partner presence in the Digital Centre of Excellence, where students will be able to use SAP software, and SAP customers will be able to tap into a digitally literate talent pool to support their transformations into best-run, intelligent enterprises.

The Next-Gen Lab at Nottingham University Business School will connect students, partners and customers within one world-class facility. This facility will give students the opportunity to gain a deep, high quality understanding of SAP and how it is used to help the world’s most successful organizations run better. Customers and partners will gain access to a pool of talented, motivated and skilled SAP-ready students that will be able to hit the ground running.
Martin Gollogly, Director, University Alliances at SAP EMEA North

Story credits

More information is available from Professor Andrew Callaghan in the Nottingham University Business School at the University of Nottingham at 

Katie Andrews - Media Relations Manager for the Faculty of Social Sciences
Phone: 0115 951 5751

Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham

Ranked 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2023, University of Nottingham is a founding member of Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.  

The University is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.The University is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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