Demand for data scientists on the rise yet vacancies remain low

Demand for data scientists has increased 350% in five years, but less than 20 job openings were available per quarter in 2012

Demand for data scientists has grown 350% over the last five years, however fewer than 20 vacancies appeared during each quarter of 2012, according to figures.

According to the Big Data Analytics: An assessment of demand for labour and skills, 2012-2017 report, from e-skills UK and business analytics software supplier SAS, big data jobs in general are forecasted to increase 92% by 2017.

Job openings for data scientists advertised salaries at an average of £52,500 per annum for permanent jobs, compared with more general IT staff openings that post at £43,500 on average.

The report claims that data scientists need to demonstrate tech skills such as Hadoop (Pig in particular), Java, NoSQL, and C++ to achieve such a wage. Other skills include generic maths/statistical skills and data/analytical skills including data analysis, artificial intelligence and data mining.

Mark Wilkinson, managing director, SAS UK & Ireland, said: “The exponential rise in demand for specialist big data skills despite the currently unfavourable economic climate presents a real opportunity for the UK.

“To truly exploit the benefits of big data, the UK needs a new breed of professionals to maximise the potential of information to give companies significant competitive advantage. It’s crucial for the industry to work with academic institutions to ensure that today’s students are equipped with the skills so clearly in demand by UK businesses.”

Karen Price, chief executive at e-skills UK, said: “The potential to develop competitive advantage and new business opportunities through the exploitation of valuable data assets is immense, but will only be realised if employers are able to draw upon a pool of high-calibre IT specialists offering the required range of technical, analytical and business skills identified by this research.” 

The report found that demand for big data staff in general is expected to increase by 18% per year between 2012 and 2017. This would mean 28,000 new big data staff positions per annum and approximately 132,000 new vacancies in total by 2017.

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