Marks & Spencer has launched the world's first retail 'Data Academy' as it continues to put digital at the core of its vision.
The multinational UK-based retailer, which has openly struggled under its current business model with 100 of its clothing and food shops set to close, will upskill over a thousands of its employees as part of the groundbreaking initiative.
Through a new partnership with Decoded, workers from across the company will embark on a data leadership programme to become literate in technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Colleagues will also have the opportunity to enrol on The Data Fellowship, an 18 month in-work data science skills programme where participants will learn to harness the most cutting-edge data analytics tools - a project fully funded by the government's £1bn Apprenticeship Levy.
"This is our biggest digital investment in our people to date and the creation of the M&S Data Academy will upskill colleagues and provide them with an in-depth level of digital literacy as well as a Data Analytics qualification," said CEO Steve Rowe.
"Transformation of our business is key to survival and a huge part of this lies with our colleagues. We need to change their digital behaviours, mindsets and our culture to make the business fit for the digital age and our partnership with Decoded will enable us to do this."
The news comes after M&S revealed its wider transformation plan in November last year, a vision that including a 'Technology Transformation Programme' that is predicted to deliver £30mn of annual efficiencies for the retailer by 2021/22.