Managing the shortage of data talent in the UK
The chief data officer of Experian recently discussed the importance of managing the skills gap and how industry leaders can attract more diverse talent to the data sector.
The pandemic accelerated the level of innovation and creativity in regards to using data effectively. Combining the skills and expert knowledge, data can provide businesses with the necessary insights to respond with both accuracy and speed. What has become very clear over the last year is how important data can be in terms of creating a competitive advantage.
While many businesses want to harness data and become more informed with the value of information, the lack of appropriate skills and resources is hindering the ability to execute a successful data strategy. This has proven to be relatively challenging as we experience a data skill shortage. There are more data roles to fill than qualified candidates to take those positions, resulting in a competitive search for data talent. The situation has been exacerbated somewhat due to several leading technology businesses dominating the hiring of new and existing talent.
The report suggests that over 80% of data leaders are finding it challenging to hire talent in the sector and nearly 50% believe that a general shortage of skills is the biggest challenge in terms of delivering value within their organisation.
Studies also indicate that this shortage applies not only to general data roles but also to the handling and processing of data effectively. Organisations require data that has been carefully cleaned and is fit for purpose. Industry experts believe this is a vital area that requires more focus, ensuring data is presented in a way that can be used effectively.
The new National Data Strategy announced by the government focuses on the UK working towards establishing a leading data economy, highlighting data skills as the target area to allow this goal to be reached. How can the UK work towards this target?
On a national scale, data and digital skills need to be explored and broadened within education to tackle this shortage. The National Data Strategy provides the opportunity to explore data skills on a national scale, enabling government and industry members to determine which skillsets are missing and how to create strategic plans. Working with universities is critical and will allow courses to be created based on providing the best employment opportunities after education and give businesses the required skills to reach their desired goals.
Strengthening the UK’s workforce for the future
It’s not just about creating the right skills in education. Businesses need to play a part in future-proofing the workforce by providing people with the necessary skills to manage data effectively. Businesses must ensure they focus on developing their data capabilities with their existing workforce, rather than leaving data skills and knowledge in the hands of just a few people. Developing a culture where data knowledge and solutions are dispersed more openly will enable data specialists to focus more specifically on innovative and targeted work to raise business performance.
Focusing on diversity in data
Education in data is vitally important and increasing diversity will strengthen the progress in skills development in the industry. In a world with an increasing skills gap and a need for employees with more creativity and potential to innovate, it is even more important that policies and processes enable all types of people a fair and equal chance to progress and develop in the data industry.