Graduates Not Skilled in Big Data

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Almost three-quarters (72%) of UK firms believe that graduates lack the necessary skills to analyse data effectively. As a result, only 10% look at new graduates when recruiting for big data projects. These were among the key findings of a recent OnePoll survey of senior executives commissioned by Teradata.

This is part of a wider recruitment problem. With 45% of companies already running a big data project or planning to within the next two years, nearly two-thirds (60%) of these are finding it difficult to find the right mix of skills, with only 8% confirming this to be an easy task.

The majority (54%) of UK firms believe the reason for this is that potential recruits, including graduates, do not have the right combination of business, analytical and communications skills. This is almost twice the number (30%) of those who point to a lack of experienced candidates.

Professor Mark Whitehorn, emeritus professor of analytics at the University of Dundee believes that universities can and are answering this challenge, by developing data science courses focused strongly on the development of problem-solving skills. “Here at Dundee, for example, the School of Computing has worked with big data since 2008, as it has been directly involved in the computational side of the Human Proteome Project, designed to map the entire human protein set.

“Big data has since grown rapidly in importance in the commercial world, creating huge demand for data science skills. In responding to this, we have been able to build on our existing experience to create a Masters course in big data which we believe aligns closely to the needs of business.”

“The findings of the OnePoll research parallel another recent survey by YouGov,” says Duncan Ross, director data science, Teradata, “which found that only one in five employers believe that new graduates are ‘work ready’ and armed with the necessary basic attributes such as team work, communications skills and punctuality. When recruiting for big data projects this presents an additional problem, in that much of the skills base required centres not on technology skills but on business skills and understanding: attributes in particularly short supply in those leaving university.

“However, as Dundee has shown, this is changing,” he adds. “There are an increasing number of courses looking to redress the balance in academia in delivering technical and business skills: at the same time, businesses most successful in harnessing the power of big data are those who look to get the people issues right first and then adopt the most appropriate technology for the big data task to be addressed.”

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