By Steve Munro at Agile Recruitment Limited
I have previously written about how the lack of data scientists appeared to be holding back Big Data projects in the UK. About 18 months ago, I decided to apply my recruitment researcher skills productively and try to put an actual figure on the number of experienced data scientists who were working in the UK. Obviously, the term itself is not exact but I classified a ‘Data Scientist’ as someone who was expected to know about statistical analysis, predictive modelling, data visualisation and programming. It didn’t take long for me to realise that there was a severe shortfall of suitably qualified people. This seemed to be backed up with the number of new listings for ‘Data Scientist’ job adverts across all of the major job boards during 2014 and 2015.
However, in 2016 I’ve seen that the number of adverts for Data Scientists is now dropping but that the number of new opportunities within Business Intelligence is steaming ahead. Whilst I’m reading daily about the supposed one million Data Scientist vacancies which must be filled worldwide before 2018, it seems that UK Business Intelligence teams are allowing technology to solve more of their problems. Tools like Tableau have taken away much of the complexity of data visualisation and there appear to be more high-level tools to follow from quickly developing data science companies. Given that there are still only a few hundred specific ‘Data Scientist’ graduate programs worldwide, this pragmatic approach to moving advanced data analytics forwards appears to be more logical.
Headlines like the one above are commonplace at the moment. Universities and colleges cannot produce data scientists fast enough to meet the business demands. New Data Science courses spring up regularly but many of these are not the 2 and 4 year programs that launched the careers of most current high-profile practitioners.
International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts a need for 181,000 people with deep analytical skills in the US by 2018 and a requirement for five times that number of positions with data management and interpretation capabilities.
And yet the fall in job vacancies for pure Data Scientists, here in the UK, is perhaps explained by the increase in opportunities for multi skilled analysts to join growing Business Intelligence teams. Those companies in the UK who want ‘everywhere analytics’ right now, have decided instead to build up their BI resources and employers generally are now prioritising candidates who can think critically with data and who can creatively use visual analytics, with its ability to explore questions and uncover insights, as the common language of advanced data analytics.
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