Experience with data is more valuable than data science degree

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Global study, commissioned by Qlik on behalf of the Data Literacy Project, highlights immense career opportunity of upskilling to understand and work with data

Job seekers owning demonstrable experience with data might soon overtake those with data science degrees when it comes to the candidates global enterprises are seeking, according to a survey of global business decision makers commissioned by data and analytics firm Qlik, on behalf of the Data Literacy Project.

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. By 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 foundational 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. Qlik’s Data Literacy Index 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.

But DSA (Data Science and Analytics) 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, typically remaining open for 45 days.

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.

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.

The Data Literacy Index results summary can be found here.

For more information on how businesses can start their own data literacy revolution, join the Data Literacy Project at TheDataLiteracyProject.org.

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