How to plug the Data skills gap

Posted in Employers

Published on 06 October, 2021

Back in July, there were 1.6 million tech vacancies in the UK – over 100,000 of those created during the past 18 months alone. One of the fastest areas of growth within the industry has been Data and Analytics. But even before the pandemic, the demand for specialists in this area was immense. Since 2012, there has been a 650 per cent increase in data science jobs.

According to the US Bureau of Labour, the number of jobs is likely to increase again by 28 per cent by 2026 – that’s 11.5 million new jobs in the field for the US alone. A similar story is most likely to be seen from the UK market as we follow the same trend as our friends across the pond.

It is anticipated that a lot of this growth, especially in the UK, will lie in services such as Business Intelligence (BI). Using state-of-the-art tools and technologies, BI analysts have the capabilities to access and analyse a breadth of data and present their findings through reports, infographics, charts and maps to help stakeholders, whether internal or external, understand the current state of the business. It helps users to ‘drive change, eliminate inefficiencies and quickly adapt to make changes’, a necessity for so many businesses after the turbulence of the pandemic. Indeed, due to the growing demand for this service, Reuters foresee the sector being worth $29.48 billion by the end of 2022.

However, one hurdle the Data industry is facing is a lack of suitable candidates. Indeed, almost half of businesses have struggled to recruit roles which require data skills. Additionally, larger businesses, on average, are more likely to struggle with this recruitment compared to smaller ones.

So, how can employers look to answer the inevitable growth in demand for Data and Analytics?

Begin by searching in-house…

According to a recent Government report, almost three-fifths of organisations believe they have the talent to meet their current and future data needs, both in terms of ‘hard’ skills and analytical mindsets. However, as outlined in the report, this viewpoint may derive from ‘a lack of understanding on how data skills may benefit them in the future.’

…look at other candidates’ transferrable skills…

While ‘hard’ skills, such as knowledge of programming languages, are of course a crucial element of the data world – these can be taught over time. What is harder to teach is the other crucial side of Data, and any job for the matter, which is ‘soft’ skills. Good communication, problem solving, teamwork and so on. Ensure you’re looking through candidate CVs and focusing on these abilities as much as anything else.

…and then bring in an interim specialist to lead or train

Having untapped talent is a fantastic place to start, but to really coax the skillsets you need from them, investment in training will be crucial. While 57 per cent of employers are confident they know where to find the resources to train teams in much-needed data skills, I wonder how many have thought about interim specialists?

Brought in on a project-basis, interim staff will hold years of seasoned expertise and knowledge, as well as incredibly niche skillsets, both of which make the perfect recipe for leadership over a temporary period.

The shortage of candidates in the data sector is proving to be a headache for companies up and down the country, but there are ways around the issue – it just requires a less traditional approach. If you’re looking to hire your next data specialist and want a helping hand, get in touch with our tech recruitment team who will be more than happy to help. 


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Recruitment Manager - IT Division

Lynsey has over 14 years of recruitment experience, all of which have been with Cathedral Appointments! She initially ran our office division before utilising previous knowledge and experience by taking on the IT Division in 2016. She can also be found running around sorting IT issues in the office for the rest of the team!

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How to plug the Data skills gap

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