Bridging the data skills gap: Students encouraged to consider a career working with data

Misperceptions about qualification and skill requirements are hindering UK students from pursuing a career working with data, a new study from Experian (@ExperianExperts) has revealed.

The research, which surveyed 2,001 UK adults (16+) in education, found over two thirds of students (68%) believe you require key qualifications in maths and / or science in order to work with data. Almost three quarters (72%) also believe that you need specific data skills in order to apply for a data related job.

However, despite the misperceptions, the research also highlighted that over half (53%) are considering a career working with data, including data analysis (29%), data science (21%) and data engineering roles (16%). Men are considerably more likely to consider a career in a data-related field, with 60% doing so compared to 48% of women.

The study follows on from a recent report1 published by the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) which highlighted the UK faces a data skills shortage, with up to 234,000 job roles requiring data skills currently vacant. A lack of talent in the field would severely dent the Government’s ambition for the UK to become a world leader in data, as outlined in the National Data Strategy2, so it’s encouraging that Experian’s research shows a healthy appetite from students.

Jonathan Westley, Chief Data Officer for Experian UK&I and EMEA, comments:

“The pandemic has shown the growing importance of data and the role it can play in overcoming some of societies biggest challenges. The National Data Strategy is testament to this view, but achieving the Government’s ambitions will continue to be an uphill struggle if there’s not enough talent working in the data industry.

“While it’s encouraging to see that a growing number of graduates and apprentices are now considering a career in data, we need to do more by working alongside the Government to educate and create awareness around data roles with a broader, more diverse range of students. Those in education today are increasingly being driven by the idea of finding a career in which they can make a real difference, and we need to showcase the power of data for good in sectors from healthcare to education.”

Experian is calling on businesses and government to work together to entice more students from a wide range of backgrounds into careers working with data. And the demand is there – the research found that one in five students (21%) said that businesses needed to showcase how people can make a difference to society by pursuing a career in data, and one in four (25%) thought that a renewed focus on data skills and training was needed in the education system.

With 67% of students wanting companies to do more to promote data roles, Experian believes businesses have an opportunity to raise awareness to the importance of data and its crucial role.

 

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