Fast Tracking New Artificial Intelligence Skills

Guest Blog: Eimear Rooney, Data & AI Practice Manager at Kainos as part of techUK's AI Week #AIWeek2021

Over the past year, Covid has accelerated the pace of digital and data transformation globally. Organisations have had to accelerate adoption of AI to help deal with the crisis, supporting more informed decision making. But it is widely accepted that there are not enough people with experience or the right skills to apply explainable and ethical AI technology. This is why many organisations are struggling to scale their AI adoption.

We too have experienced first-hand the same skills challenge as our customers, experiencing an unprecedented demand for AI services from all sectors. This skills deficit applies equally to both business and technical roles, for design, development and live operation.

Fast-tracking engineers

It was clear that there was no quick or easy answer. There is no single magic bullet that will address an organisation’s AI talent deficit. As a result, we decided to diversify our approach by,

  • recruiting more experienced hires.
  • growing our own AI practitioners through graduate entry intake.
  • working with a small number of trusted specialist partners.
  • building AI skills across our team of software and data engineers.

We were able to fast-track cross-skilling our team of experienced engineers by designing and developing a bespoke seven-week AI Engineer fast-track programme. This included 4 weeks classroom training and three weeks on the job mentoring which equips experienced developers with the broad range of AI and Machine Learning skills to allow them to grow their career as Data Engineers who are also AI Engineers within Kainos.

We have successfully used this programme to very quickly build a high-quality pool of internal talent to help meet customer demand. However, success for us is not just about numbers, it is about giving our people the opportunity to grow their skills and knowledge and diversify their careers into newer technologies.

Encouraging Diversity

Encouraging diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the key to success. As a global organisation, celebrating the unique qualities of every single one of our people is a joy – but it also helps us to better understand and match our customers’ needs more effectively. Our Global Diversity and Inclusion Council oversees an approach consisting of four key areas: Leadership, People, Culture and Innovating. Research proves that diverse organisations have happier staff and better performance, It’s a win-win for everyone.

Meet Bartosz, a Fast-Track Alumni

Below I catch up with Bartosz Smok who recently completed the programme to find out what he has to say!


Tell us a little about your background and why you wanted to move into AI?

I started my career in Kainos two years ago, and during this time, I have been growing as a specialist. I have been working as a data engineer which I have thoroughly enjoyed but was becoming more and more aware of AI, the fact that it is everywhere, means endless possibilities – from data management to deep learning, it can do great things. I therefore see AI as a challenging and fast-growing field and there is no better fit for me. And let's not forget - there is no other area in IT, that is developing so rapidly, but also needs so much more exploration. 

Did you have any awareness of AI before the programme?

As I said, my career started in data engineering, and while I’m not an expert in this field, the experience has certainly paid off. However, working on the projects was just a tip of an iceberg for me. 


What exactly is the AI fast track?

It is a seven-week programme conceptually sponsored by Eimear and developed by experts in the AI/Data Science practice. It consists of all the fundamentals you need to kick-start your career as an AI Engineer. 

The programme is conveniently divided into 5 technical competencies: 

  • Programming 
  • Descriptive Analytics 
  • Advanced Analytics 
  • Data visualisation 
  • Cloud services 

The training plan consisted of a list of formal training courses, including industry leading accreditation, as well as recommended reading and links to useful documentation online.  

Starting with a Python tutorial, through NumPy, pandas, matplotlib and many other tools and libraries - I learnt a lot! 

How was the fast-track programme?

The programme was relatively new, when I was selected to join. With a skilled mentor overseeing the process, I started an amazing development adventure. And I must say, it was so rewarding! Being one of the first participants was even more exciting. I am so glad for the chance and trust I have been offered and I would strongly recommend the programme to any of my peers.


What next?

I am not stopping here, that is for sure. I am still amazed by how much you can achieve in a short time with the right programme, a little bit of dedication and skilled mentors - a couple of months ago, I was implementing my first 'Hello World!' in Python, and now I am deploying Machine Learning models in a production environment - I am growing a lot. I am so happy with where I am right now, and I could not be more excited going forward. 

I am ready; I have machines to teach. 


If you’re interested in progressing a career in AI, Data Science or Data Analytics within Kainos, check out our live jobs here.



Eimear Rooney – Data & AI Practice Manager

Eimear has been driving digital transformation through AI over the past 3 years within Kainos. Eimear is passionate about unlocking the benefits of AI/ML to improve business and wider society. Core to her role is building a sustainable and resilient team to meet the rapidly evolving AI landscape. As a senior female leader in AI she is also committed to encouraging diversity and growing opportunities for inclusiveness in the AI space.


You can read all insights from techUK's AI Week here


Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

Associate Director, Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID, techUK

Katherine joined techUK in May 2018 and currently leads the Data Analytics, AI and Digital ID programme. 

Prior to techUK, Katherine worked as a Policy Advisor at the Government Digital Service (GDS) supporting the digital transformation of UK Government.

Whilst working at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) Katherine led AMRC’s policy work on patient data, consent and opt-out.    

Katherine has a BSc degree in Biology from the University of Nottingham.

[email protected]
020 7331 2019

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