Demand for big data specialists to soar over the next five years

As one-third of large UK businesses plan to implement big data analytics programmes, demand for staff is set to rise to 69,000 jobs

Demand for big data specialists is set to rise to 69,000 jobs over the next five years, as a third of UK large businesses (6,400) plan to implement big data analytics programmes, a report has revealed.

The report Big Data Analytics: Adoption and employment trends, released by e-Skills UK and SAS, surveyed 1,000 UK businesses employing 100 or more staff.

Of those questioned, 90% said they believe they could achieve business benefits through increasing the skills of their big data analytics users. Data and analytics skills were identified as the mostly likely skills to generate business benefits. Three out of five organisations said they find it challenging to hire the specialists they require.   

Lord Green, minister of state for trade and investment, said: “Business sectors across the economy are being transformed by data, analytics and modelling. The UK now has the opportunity to take a lead in the global efforts to deal with the volume, velocity and variety of data created each day.

“To do this we need to ensure the government, academia and businesses work together to further develop the skills available to us today and actively support programmes that nurture development in the next generation.”

According to Philip Treleaven, from University College London (UCL), universities need to go beyond the traditional development of skills for financial services.

“There is a real need to focus on business analytics and in particular ask our colleagues working in social science to look at the development of courses that will tap into the richness of information that is available from consumers through initiatives such as customer loyalty,” said Treleaven.

He said the industry needs students that are already working with big data. 

“If we find the right student and place them with the organisation, it provides the businesses with resources to explore just how they can turn insight from their data into business innovation,” said Treleaven.

“It also means that the data retains its integrity in the environment designed for it and a stronger chance of employment for the student.”

Karen Price, chief executive at e-skills UK, said big data analytics skills are a priority for UK businesses, alongside areas such as cyber security, e-commerce and mobile computing.

“These are skills upon which companies of all sizes will be reliant in future, and in which the UK has global leadership potential," said Price.

“In recognition of this, we are bringing employers and educators together, to develop industry-led apprenticeships, degree courses and professional development opportunities, which will raise the skill levels of existing workers and increase the supply of new entrants with specialist expertise.”

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