17 September 2017
For as long as I have been working in Data Science, some odd 20 years now, there has been a consistent cry from management about the ongoing shortage in talent. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute concluded: “a shortage of the analytical and managerial talent necessary to make the most of Big Data is a significant and pressing challenge (for the U.S.).” This confirms what I am hearing in the field, far and wide.
McKinsey estimates there will be four to five million jobs in the US requiring data analysis skills by 2018. They also project a need for 1,5 million more managers and analysts with deep analytical and technical skills. It appears that although many, many more people are now working with data than 20 years ago, the gap hasn’t closed one bit. In fact, quite the contrary. The shortage of qualified talent only seems to be growing. How can this be, when the (job) market has been calling for data analytics talent for so long??
Some people argue that during that same period the US STEM education has been faltering. The US is (still) the largest analytics market. There is indeed some evidence that the US education system has been falling behind. But this is an international phenomenon, so there is more going on. We’re shooting at a “moving target”, and universities are not renown for their nimbleness when adapting to new trends in the marketplace. The skills that were in demand 20 years ago, are largely obsolete today. The pace of change has been very high in the advanced analytics space. Keeping up with all these new trends is incredibly hard.
And still, there is one more thought… One of the questions that has always puzzled me, is whether employers are afraid to hire people that don’t have all the required skills, yet (because most candidates don’t!), or whether they are concerned they might not be able to motivate their staff to acquire the skills they need to succeed. Just a thought.