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Wanted Data Decision Makers With Practical Skills Over Certifications

data science

Practical and demonstrable experience may have an edge over certifications in the near future when it comes to data science, according to a new survey.

The survey, which focused on the perspective of global business decision makers and was carried out by data and analytics firm Qlik, highlighted the fact that there are huge career opportunities for those who understand and work with data. Almost two-thirds (59%) of both global and APAC enterprises surveyed ranked prior job experience or a case study interview – where a candidate is presented with and must solve an example business problem to demonstrate their data skills – as the top indicator of a candidate’s data literacy. In contrast, only 18% globally and 15% in APAC viewed a Bachelor or Master degree in science – let alone data science – or even a Doctorate degree as its primary consideration when hiring.

This means the opportunity to take advantage of improved career prospects and salaries associated with data literacy is not limited to those with degrees in data science or STEM subjects. This follows a wider trend identified by Glassdoor that an increasing number of technology companies are ditching the degree in favor of these skills helping candidates get their foot in the door.

Actively Seeking Data Decision Makers

Most businesses (63% globally and 57% in APAC) are actively looking for candidates in all parts of their organization that can demonstrate their ability to use, work with and analyze data – presenting a good opportunity for those who can demonstrate these valuable skills. Indeed, those with a fundamental understanding of data and analytics will account for one-third of the job market, with a projected increase of 110,000 positions by 2020 – a 14% increase since 2015 according to IBM.

This is perhaps unsurprising given the massive growth opportunity for data literate organizations – those with higher levels of individual data skills, data dispersion across the enterprise, and data decision making. A prior report by Qlik revealed large enterprises that are more data literate experience a 3 to 5% higher enterprise value (the total market value of the business), which represented an additional $320-$534 million for the surveyed organizations.

Unfortunately, data science and analytics as professions – which includes all data-informed roles from data scientists and data analysts, to business analysts and data-enabled marketing managers -are the hardest to fill in the entire market.

With a crisis affecting the entire data skills spectrum, and notably just 24% of global employees confident in their data literacy abilities, these highly sought-after skills can help people become more valuable to employers and translate into higher personal income.

While not all business leaders surveyed were aware of how their firm remunerates data literate employees, Qlik’s survey revealed that 75% of those up to speed on their company’s policy reported paying higher salaries to employees with the ability to read, work with, analyze and argue with data.

Companies Lagging on Investing in Their Own Workforce

Despite recognizing the value of on-the-job experience and data certifications, 50% of companies globally said they don’t provide data literacy training to their own employees. Only 34% of decision makers globally and 36% in APAC state that they have programs in place. This is despite 78% of global employees and 72% of APAC employees saying they would be willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skill sets, the study reveals.

Those individuals motivated to pursue their own upskilling have the opportunity to supercharge their career and unlock new opportunities – particularly as data grows in importance across all enterprises.

Eighteen percent (18%) of business decision makers globally and 21% in APAC said that a data-skills certification – something that can be earned well after college or formal education – was the best indicator of a candidate’s data literacy and demonstrated the ability to use the techniques most required today.

This means anyone that invests in improving their data skills – no matter what existing qualifications – can access more career opportunities associated with data literacy.

So, what is the best indicator of a candidate’s literacy?

Prior job experience emerged as the most important indicator of a job candidate’s ability to read, work with, analyze and argue with data.

 “What we look for are people who are curious and inquisitive, have a passion for doing the right thing, and are open to using data to find insights that support better business outcomes,” said Lee Raybould, Chief Data Officer at Nationwide Building Society.

“The volume and variety of data is constantly growing, and the insights it can unlock to allow firms to be more successful is incredible. But you need people who are prepared to engage with data, and to gain an understanding of how to use and interpret it to support decision making no matter what their job role. That’s why, in my view, democratizing data in an easily consumable way and encouraging people in all parts of your firm to upskill and feel comfortable with data will be key to future success,” he said.

“The study’s findings show that the career benefits associated with data literacy are a universal opportunity,” said Jordan Morrow, Head of Data Literacy at Qlik and Chair of the Data Literacy Project.

“Organizations are increasingly understanding the value is not in having data, but transforming their data into value to make better decisions – and we’re seeing this increased appreciation translating into greater opportunities for data-literate individuals. We hope these findings will encourage those at every stage of their career to embark upon learning or improving their own data skills so they can start reaping its rewards,” he summed up.

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