Data: The New Second Language

September 6, 2019 Renee Altier

Man analyzing data on laptop

There's a new language students need on their resumes to compete in today's competitive job market - Data Analytics. Regardless of industry, everyone needs data literacy. Data analytics job opportunities are increasingly falling outside IT and analysis roles and skills are in demand across all industry sectors. And if you still aren’t convinced data science can be used outside of traditional scientific arenas, a scientist recently used data analytics to determine the main character of the iconic TV series, Friends. The result may surprise you!

As the new digital economy continues to evolve, data analytics skills will be continually tied to career success across myriad industry sectors. To create job-ready graduates fluent in the language of data, all academic institutions, whether universities or publishers, must develop cross-disciplinary curricula in partnership with the ever-evolving workplace.

A Look at the Data Shows the Talent Shortage In Data Analytics Is Significant – and Growing

It’s no secret there is a surging demand for data analytics careers amidst a talent shortage in data analytics. Job postings for data scientists rose 75 percent from January 2015 to January 2018 and job searches for data scientist roles rose 65 percent. But what might not be as apparent is the alarming talent shortage in data analytics. There is an expected 20 percent increase in demand for data talent by 2020, as well as another 2.7M new data-related job postings in the United States, but as many as 40 percent of companies claim they are unable to hire or retain data talent due to the lack of supply

While this situation may seem dire, there is much that can be done – and much that has already been done – to close this gap and properly equip graduates for the most in-demand careers.

Universities & Job-Seeking Industries Are Ripe for Collaboration

To provide superior data analysis training, funders and institutions are partnering to expand opportunities for students across their institutions. Over the last five years, numerous colleges and universities have launched new courses, majors and even entire schools dedicated to data analytics. MIT’s $1 billion computing college will open this fall to bring together work in computer science, data science, and artificial intelligence with the humanities and social sciences. The University of Virginia’s new interdisciplinary school of data science will build on the model of its Data Science Institute. Ongoing work at U.Va. looks at how to advance our understanding of everything from autism to mental illness and criminal justice, to how the stock market affects government and society. U.Va. plans to have satellites in schools of medicine, business, law, and engineering, and to incorporate a focus on innovation and ethics.

While a huge step in the right direction, adding courses or programs focused on this critical skill alone is not enough. All academic companies and institutions, whether universities, publishers, OPMs etc., should be looking to build curriculum and course materials in collaboration with the workplaces seeking the learners they serve. This kind of knowledge-sharing will uncover gaps and lead both parties to understand all the required skills and competencies for the modern workplace.

Breaking with tradition, new partnerships with industry thought leaders alongside curriculum innovation can make a difference to the next generation of career-seekers. For example, the Business-Higher Ed Forum (BHEF) brings together leaders from higher education and industry who are dedicated to the creation of a highly skilled workforce. As a member, Wiley not only supports BHEF’s mission to create new learning partnerships to produce a diverse talent pool prepared to meet demands across many disciplines, but also has the unique opportunity to collaborate with them to create a foundational course in data analytics. Thanks to BHEF’s deep understanding of workforce needs, the course not only provides a competency framework for data analytics, but also builds in practical skill-building elements – like mastery of working in spreadsheets, the “necessary evil” prevalent in so many jobs. Globally, Wiley and BHEF co-chair initiatives such as Project DARE (Data Analytics Raising Employment), an APEC program seeking to facilitate development of a data analytics-enabled workforce across the APEC region. The project brings together business, government and academic leaders to align curricula, courses, and programs to bridge the gap between skills and employer demand.

The data analytics skills gap is apparent – and it’s not going to close on its own. As more industries lean heavily on data analytics skills, education providers and employers must share resources to best prepare the candidates they want to mold and attract. Partnerships with professional development organizations can accelerate development of curriculum resources across disciplines, further bridging the gap between education and employment. By putting the future success of the learner at the center of higher education curriculum, we can truly prepare the incoming workforce for years to come – whether they aim to be accountants, marketers or even pop culture enthusiasts.

About the Author

Renee Altier

VP, GM, Digital Education, Wiley //

More Content by Renee Altier
Previous Article
Does Boris Johnson have any chance of Brexit success this October?
Does Boris Johnson have any chance of Brexit success this October?

Nicholas Wallwork, author of Brexit For Dummies, shares some of his latest thoughts on this maddeningly com...

Next Article
Is De-Centralizing the Economy the Answer? Frontrunner Podcast Series
Is De-Centralizing the Economy the Answer? Frontrunner Podcast Series

Modern technology provides the support needed to bring more people into the world economy through a decentr...