CORE Skills graduates turn disruptive forces into competitive advantage


CORE Skills ‘Geoscientist to Data Scientist’ pilot program helps Perth professionals from global energy and resources companies address organisational data science implementation…

A range of technical resource professionals attended the pilot program for 15-weeks, one day per week, to learn how to bring new tools and types of analysis back to their own jobs and teams.

Delivered in two parts, graduates undertook a one day ‘Leading Data Scientists’ executive program and a fifteen day ‘Data Science Springboard’ professionals’ program, which validated and refined capability delivery.

The professional program outputs included clean data, new insights, cross business unit collaboration, incremental innovation, and a lot of value that can be captured for the organisation. It was developed in response to a data science skills capability gap for mining and energy organisations, and to help them capitalise on the digital disruption opportunity.

CORE Innovation Hub Team: Emma Veenema, Tamryn Barker, Sophie Hancock and Abbey Dunne

Running from 4 September to 4 December 2018, the program brought together foundation collaborators Roy Hill, Rio Tinto and ATCO Australia with premier education partners CSIRO, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia. It took place at CORE Innovation Hub in the Perth CBD, which is Australia’s first co-working, collaboration and innovation hub focused on the resources industry.

An Opportunity to Upskill

Due to a lack of highly skilled data scientists and specialised graduates, CORE Innovation Hub CEO, Tamryn Barker, said recruitment alone is not enough to fill the data literacy gap.

“A clear opportunity for industry is to upskill technical people throughout their organisation for a successful data literacy transition, aligning skills to emerging needs and averting further redundancy knowledge loss. Resources-specific, accelerated data science skills programs are needed to prepare teams for changing work to deliver smarter lifelong workplace learning,” she said.

CORE Skills Catalyst and Pilot Lead Dr Sophie Hancock said that the program has set an example of what a data science transition for a resources organisation can look like.

“Distributed data science skills at the coal face, in the hands of domain specialists who are motivated and led by enabling executives, including professionals from support functions across mining, energy and technology are turning disruptive forces into competitive advantage for CORE Skills alumni,” Dr Hancock said.

A New Model

Rio Tinto Iron Ore Chief Executive Chris Salisbury said that the program provides industry professionals with a new model to upskill people in order to meet the needs of the industry.

“This pilot is a great example of how the industry can pioneer innovative learning solutions, in collaborative environments, to provide our people with the opportunity to grow and develop in their roles.

Our industry is rapidly changing and with development of our most technologically advanced mine, Koodaideri on the horizon, it’s critically important we use data science to extract intelligence and insights to help drive our business to greater success,” he said.

“The success of this pilot could now provide the foundations for a new model for upskilling our people with the future skills needs of the industry.”

The Right Timing

With the industry struggling to keep up with the challenges presented by digital disruption, ATCO General Manager Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Amy Stanley, said that the CORE Skills program came at the perfect time.

CORE Skills pilot program discussions in full swing

“Like many companies ATCO is looking with interest at the changing business landscape and we’re keen to ensure our business is as prepared as possible for the inevitable digital transformation that is before us. The CORE Skills program has given our employees exposure to the right balance of theory, knowledge and practical discussion which has delivered maximum value and engagement with the content,” she said.

Future Program Delivery

CORE Skills Catalyst and Pilot Lead, Dr Sophie Hancock, told Startup News that she would encourage professionals from a range of technical positions to apply for future programs.

“The program is designed for professionals across a variety of disciplines who use data to make decisions in the mining and energy sector. They are typically responsible for delivering technical projects and providing regular recommendations to their leaders.”

“[I would encourage] geoscientists, scientists, GIS professionals, engineers, metallurgists, process specialists and anyone else with a technical role which is not solely restricted to commercial or business analysis [to apply].”

Individuals or organisations interested in future course delivery beyond the pilot should contact Dr Sophie Hancock at or fill in an Expression of Interest form at

FEATURE IMAGE: CORE Skills Catalyst and Pilot Leader, Dr Sophie Hancock