Demand for data skills: Is higher education missing the mark? - Technical.ly

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Apr. 22, 2014 9:30 am

Demand for data skills: Is higher education missing the mark?

According to Gartner, big data will create 4.4 million jobs by 2015. However, they note that there simply aren't enough data-savvy applicants to go around and only one-third of these jobs will be filled.
This is a guest post from Matt Satell, a contributor to BI Software Insight, a business intelligence software news resource.

Demand for the deep resources of big data and the data scientists to make sense of it isn’t new. See this IBM infographic on the subject, a portion of which is seen above.

Whether it’s healthcare, manufacturing, or even the U.S. government, big data is helping organizations identify meaningful insights and solve complex problems.

This has led to a great demand for big data skills. According to Gartner, big data will create 4.4 million jobs by 2015.  However they note that there simply aren’t enough data-savvy applicants to go around and only one-third of these jobs will be filled.

McKinsey estimates that by 2018, the U.S. could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills.

With a U.S. economy that’s struggling to build momentum, big data could help jump start job growth. But only if we start preparing the next generation.

Colleges and universities have been slow to adapt to this new digital universe. Though schools like Georgetown, George Washington, and RPI have launched big data and analytics programs, most seem to be dragging their feet on revising their curriculums.

It’s never easy to turn around a Titanic, but this is too important to ignore. Big data and analytics are the future.

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It’s important to bring awareness to schools about this issue. Talk to school officials and professors and emphasize that data skills aren’t just for IT pros — they’re important for nearly every profession because they train you to think strategically.

Business can play a role too. IBM has been at the forefront here, partnering with more than 1,000 universities around the globe to launch data and analytics programs. While most can’t have that kind of impact, businesses should collaborate with schools.

Develop partnership programs where top students can work on real world business challenges dealing with data and analytics. This will help students foster the skills they’ll need to be successful after graduation.

As big data gets more and more mainstream coverage, there’s reason for optimism. But until data and analytics become staples in every college curriculum, businesses are going to face a labor shortfall in the one of the fastest growing and most important fields.

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