By Krisia Hardie
In this technological age, the data analytics and insights marketplace is plagued with distressing supply and demand challenges. The unfortunate truth is that a significant talent shortage exists, causing a major disconnect between job availability and accessible skilled researchers.
The data and analytics industry in North America is currently facing significant and worrisome challenges. Major corporations are expressing deep concerns about industry gaps and shortages in talent as conveyed by analytics firm Adastra which illustrated that an overwhelming 74% of Canadian IT decision-makers believed there was a severe talent shortage. Furthermore, Forbes emphasizes that the relative newness of the field is a crucial contributory factor to disruptions in the supply chain, which only adds to the severity of the situation.
Past predictions by IBM forecasted that by the year 2020 there would be a significant demand for data scientists with approximately 2.7 million job openings required to meet this demand (predictions shown in Fig. 1). The majority of this demand is concentrated in Finance and Insurance, Professional Services, and IT industries which attribute to 59% of the demand share. This information is presented in Table 2 of the research study conducted by Columbus (2017).
The high cost of hiring, the requirement for new training programs, and the high risk to future productivity are all seen as the major barriers keeping businesses from moving forward with data management projects. When compared to the market average, analyst positions are some of the hardest to fill, taking five days longer.
Lack of Data Management Training and Support on the Job
We understand that there is a talent gap in the data science industry but what exactly is contributing to a rise to this problem? Every year, the demand for data analysts and data scientists exceeds the number of individuals possessing the necessary skills to fill those positions. The lack of standardization and mentorship within the industry is creating a significant obstacle for up-and-coming data scientists seeking guidance. The rapid pace of technological advancement and changes in the industry further amplify the issue, as there is a significant disconnection between employers and employees in terms of skill sets and available expertise.
The highly competitive nature of the industry exacerbates the issue, as companies prioritize these skills during the hiring process. One of the biggest talent development challenges stems from the lack of on-the-job training in data management, which leads to workers being deficient in the necessary analytical skills to process data efficiently. Additionally, many organizations struggle to find specialized data analysts or dedicated risk departments equipped or ready to train others. Some employees may also exhibit resistance towards adopting the organization’s data culture or developing new research capabilities. These challenges are making it increasingly difficult to bridge the talent gap in the data science industry.
Looking into the Future of Data Management
As organizations continue to collect vast amounts of data, the need for skilled professionals capable of analyzing and extracting insights from this data has drastically increased. This demand is reflected in the generous salaries offered to experienced data scientists in the United States, which can reach up to a median annual salary of approximately $150,000. However, the appeal of data science extends beyond the financial rewards, as it can offer highly fulfilling job prospects. By leveraging their expertise in data handling and analytics, data scientists can help organizations make informed decisions and drive growth, making a meaningful impact on society. Data science is experiencing rapid growth, with employment projected to increase by 36% between 2021 and 2031, which is significantly higher than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS).
With these data, it can be concluded that the industry has ample room for those seeking to specialize in data management, but its success is primarily dependent on the quality and standards set by the experts responsible for delivering the data. Research, data analytics, and insights industry experts have established that a thorough understanding of quantitative research methods is essential for success in this field (Dandapani, 2023).
The concept of managing data has progressed beyond just handling file storage and content. It now centers on managing data quality and data integration, one of the top challenges in AI-enabled governance products, systems and cultures today. To conduct purpose-driven, ethical research that can drive positive change in our global community, it is essential for researchers to have the right tools. Without these tools, achieving meaningful progress and results that drive business and social goals will be impossible. Therefore, it is imperative that researchers prioritize obtaining the necessary resources, skills, and training to ensure their work is effective and impactful as we embrace the limitless future of research.
Finding Career Success as a Data Scientist
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, prioritizing employee development will offer employers a significant advantage. Demonstrating a commitment to employees’ personal growth can make a huge impact for employers’ reputations and all those organizations looking to hire prospective data analysts. However, I have some advice for insights jobseekers:
Invest in Academic Excellence
Simply obtaining a degree or certificate may not be enough to guarantee a prosperous career. To truly excel in your chosen industry, it’s essential to gain practical experience and internships in addition to your academic qualifications. Thankfully, many reputable universities and colleges offer cooperative education programs that can equip you with the necessary skills and training to thrive in your field.
We highly recommend taking advantage of mentorship programs, enhancing your abilities by writing blog posts, increasing your network by volunteering at industry events, obtaining certification or licensure in a subject you’re passionate about, or participating in research initiatives to expand your knowledge. These experiences can provide you with valuable insights into your industry, help you acquire new skills, and establish meaningful connections with industry leaders. By investing in yourself and your education, you will be better prepared to reach your career goals and achieve your full potential.
Join a Research Community
To thrive as an Insights Analyst or Data Specialist, receiving proper support and guidance is essential. Research communities can offer this advantage, but it is crucial to choose wisely. It is imperative to select a community that resonates with your unique interests and professional objectives. For example, global diverse immigrant professionals could never go wrong with The Research Whisperer, The Thesis Whisperer or Generation1.ca. By becoming a member of these communities, you’ll have access to a global network of researchers, graduate students, institutional research managers, administrators, employers, and associations who share a common interest in comprehensive research and data. This will enhance your credibility and help develop your portfolio, ultimately leading to career success. Generation1.ca’s fall 2023 virtual insights career fair and case competition for example, could be the perfect opportunity for you to shine and showcase your talent to leading professionals in the field.
Develop a Professional Portfolio
Having a well-crafted professional portfolio is an essential aspect of job hunting. It not only highlights your skillset but also boosts your credibility as a potential candidate. Even if you’re new to the industry, it’s crucial to include any relevant projects you’ve worked on, such as internships, co-ops, or volunteer work. As you gather more experience, it’s important to expand your portfolio to include a diverse range of research pieces and career advancements that demonstrate your growth and capabilities.
In today’s rapidly evolving industry, it is imperative for professionals of all levels to continue learning new systems and processes to stay ahead. The industry is constantly expanding, and staying up to date with the latest tools, techniques, and resources is necessary to improve data management systems, eliminate biases, and enhance data quality. Keeping your skills current is vital, and your organization may have training programs in place to ensure that all industry experts remain current.
Wishing you the best in your career aspirations, I invite you to join me in bridging the gap between skilled talent and top jobs in data, analytics, and insights. Let’s embark on this journey together!
Krisia Hardie is a Graduate Student at Humber College completing a Research Analyst Graduate Certificate. Krisia has a decade of experience in areas of Research, Hospitality and Quality Assurance following the completion of her Degree in Sociology at the University of West Indies in Jamaica.