What if there was one skill set you could acquire that would help you secure a new job across every industry and in almost any occupation? Companies are screaming for employees with talent in this field and it doesn’t (yet) require a four-year degree. What is it?
Data science and analytics, or DSA.
Data science is the study of data. It requires an understanding of mathematics (especially statistics) and may also require familiarity with information from machine learning, how to mine data or visualizing data.
There is a need of safekeeping and analyzing of data as an organization’s collected data increases. That’s why a number of big data companies grew in number over the years. Their goal is to provide solutions to compress, store and analyze data for the betterment and growth of the business.
The interesting thing about DSA skills is that they fall across multiple occupations and industries. In other words, you’ll find these skills used by corporate leaders, human resource managers and even front line managers who are now required to analyze vast amounts of data to make strategic and operational decisions. You’ll also see titles requiring DSA skills within finance, marketing and information technology divisions. Acquiring DSA skills can help you be more valuable to employers, which translates into job stability. And because every company needs these skills, you’ll be able to freely transition to new industries should you decide you want a new environment or culture.
Data science jobs are in demand. There is a growing need for candidates to fill DSA jobs, as the number of openings continues to climb. By 2020, there will be 2.72 million postings for data science and analytics roles, according to a report by PwC and the Business-Higher Education Forum. And to make matters worse for employers, there is a shortage of qualified candidates with these skills. In a poll by Gallup for the PwC and Business-Higher Education Forum report, only 23 percent of college and university leaders say their graduates will have those skills. The good news for you is, 69 percent of employers expect candidates with DSA skills to get preference for jobs in their organizations by 2021. Due to the scarcity of these skills, in many instances the bar to entry has been lowered in order to meet demand.
The “new collar” jobs. Traditional white-collar and blue-collar jobs are no longer the only options. “New collar” jobs are new jobs that rapidly emerge from new technology. These jobs rely on experience or vocational training and typically don’t require a four-year college degree. IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty used the term “new collar” jobs for USA Today, where she wrote, “As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills – which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting.” According to Rometty, “new collar” jobs include titles such as “cloud computing technicians” and “services delivery specialists.”
Hot industry titles to watch. DSA jobs most frequently appear in the finance and insurance; information technology; and professional, scientific and technical services industries, according to the report from PwC and the Business-Higher Education Forum. Be on the lookout for titles such as financial analyst, business analyst or intelligence analyst. If you have a technical background, set your target on database architect or business intelligence architect roles that will tap into your knowledge of databases and programming. The report cited these industries also had a strong need for DSA skills: health care and social assistance, retail trade and manufacturing.
Training and education opportunities. If you are interested in delving into data science and analytics, you may want to begin by honing your math skills first. These skills will provide the foundation to help you understand how to analyze data. Colleges and universities have been slow to add the requisite skills to their curricula, but community colleges who partner with local businesses have been a bit faster to add certificate programs. You’ll also need to learn how to use software associated with extracting and analyzing data. Software-specific training is available through a variety of mediums and software companies sometimes offer online training themselves. PwC and IBM both offer employees training to help equip them with these hard-to-find skills. In fact, PwC has made their DSA courses publicly available on the Coursera online learning platform. The entry-level courses cover data analysis and visualization skills.
Doing more to bridge the gap. Experts agree that the best way to bridge the skills gap is through partnerships. Companies and colleges that align will mutually benefit and will determine how well this gap gets filled. IBM has designed six-year high school programs combining community college educating to instill these skills, according to Rometty in USA Today. Self-study is another option. Stay up to date by reading industry publications, attending industry events and attending training sessions. Investing your time and energy into learning a new skill set or tools will help you stand out and hold on to your job.