How to build data-capability during a skills-shortage

Becoming a data-driven organisation is a priority for more than half of organisations: according to Forbes, 71% of organisations predict that their investments in data and analytics will continue to accelerate, yet only 41% of HR professionals believe they are “tech-savvy” enough to make the right hiring decisions.

Given that there’s a digital skills-shortage across industry in the UK, what exactly are organisations investing in? The prognosis for the next few years is that digital skills shortages could reach an all time high in the UK by 2030 

Ready-skilled talent is hard to come by and the organisations doing the hiring often aren’t sure which sort of skills will make the difference in their organisation. Time for a new plan of action.  

In this article, we’ll set out how you can identify skills-gaps, target your efforts properly when recruiting and utilise your current workforce to achieve your organisation’s data goals.  

Understand why data matters and make the case for data skills 

Getting to grips with the skills-shortage doesn’t mean that HR and hiring managers need to become consummate data-experts! However, understanding needs to be built around exactly what the benefits of a data-driven approach are…a “mission statement” or a “guiding star”.  

Let’s start with the benefits: one example is that data is generated at every customer touchpoint, on every device your organisation uses, at every moment. However, many organisations can’t read it because, in simple terms, unstructured data is a mess. And completing a single unit of work cost 10 times more than completing the same task with a clean piece of data, according to the Harvard Business Review.

How do you identify opportunities like these? We’d recommend keeping up to date with data-trends by following industry leaders, like AWS. AWS regularly posts blogs which are focused on data from a business, rather than a technical, perspective, and can help you keep your finger on the pulse.  

A hot-read for you right now is the AWS eBook, “Unmasking your organisation’s data problem”.  

Build an organisation where data is embraced 

Data scientists and experts are just one piece of the puzzle, and they can only have an impact if the rest of the organisation understand their insights, and more crucially, accepts their insights as valid.  

  • Only 5% of organisations consider themselves fully data-literate, according to a survey by Datacamp.
  • A survey by Exasol found that, “Two-thirds of data teams have experienced resistance to adaptation of data-driven methods across organizations”. 

 Building data literacy skills amongst business professionals empowers them to make sense of the insights they are being presented with, which in turn breaks down misconceptions around data and builds belief in the organisation’s data strategy. Put simply, for maximum impact, everybody needs to be on board.  

Your existing workforce holds the key 

As we’ve described, data skills are in-demand right now, and that demand is only growing. US Bureau of Labor Statistics project a growth rate of nearly 28% in the number of jobs requiring data science skills by 2026, including roles that aren’t traditionally data-driven. You may assume that there’s a point where it’s simply too late to master these new skills, and inadvertently overlook a powerful resource: your existing workforce.  

Data skills are so in-demand that many organisations are already reskilling existing staff into data roles, or training new staff on the job. QA’s reskilling and upskilling bootcamps provide learners with work-ready data skills, all taught in a virtual setting whilst you’re still employed. This means there’s no huge time and money investment, just a low-risk learning environment where you can upskill or reskill regardless of your previous knowledge level. Plus, data careers have great earning potential: the average for a London data analyst is around £40k per year.   

Develop the talent of the future  

Recruitment and new talent still has a role to play in bridging the gap, but perhaps not in a way you’ve considered before. Apprenticeships are one way that organisations are able to acquire the most in-demand tech skills, fast. That’s because apprentices are provided with in-depth learning throughout their placement, meaning that they quickly and continually build on the skills they develop in the workplace, and create real-business value from the outset.  

For example, in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, incident data can hold the key to effect resourcing and prevention – but there’s no time to waste.  QA upskilled members of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on-the-job with a data apprenticeship, with apprentices being able to generate actionable insights for search-and-rescue early-on in their journey.  

As data becomes more crucial, data skills training is the most powerful way to transform your organisation. Find out which route will take you to data success and learn more about data at QA.  

QA is the UK’s leading tech talent and training organization, providing classes and apprenticeships for over 400k learners a year. We know that the future is data; our training empowers you with the in-demand skills you need to transform your career.