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Plugging the skills gap in data science and computing

Posted on: August 13, 2021
Young woman in a suit at a computer with data holograms around her

It’s no secret that advances in technology continue to reshape how every industry operates.

Increasingly, organisations are adopting cloud-based operating solutions. Worldwide, industries and sectors are pursuing platforms and tools for further innovation, artificial intelligence and data management. Companies, of all kinds, are realising they can harness technology to address a multitude of business problems. There is high demand for individuals and specialists with technical skills to help fulfil these changing business needs – and guide decision making to stay ahead of the curve – in the global marketplace.

It’s an excellent time to capitalise on the acute skills gap in this fast-growing area and embark on a rewarding career in computing and data science.

What’s the latest in the technology sector?

The big data analytics market is forecast to increase at an annual growth rate of 29.7% and will be worth $40.6 billion by 2023 (Global Big Data Analytics Forecast to 2023, Frost and Sullivan).

Paul Silverglate, Deloitte’s Vice Chairman and US Technology Sector Leader, reinforces this emerging development for the IT sector: while cloud computing and artificial intelligence continue to dominate the space, edge computing and data science are steadily becoming a focus for tech-forward companies.

This focus also means news for individual job roles. According to James Milligan, Global Head of Technology at Hays, six of the most in-demand tech sectors and jobs for 2021 are:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Cloud solutions
  • Data science
  • DevOps
  • Software development
  • Change management

As a result of this emphasis, data science jobs – from data analysis and data engineering to business intelligence – are hot commodities.

How is data used by businesses?

In addition to big data being used to optimise business processes, organisations increasingly want the inside-track on customer and client behaviour.

Amazon can use data sources to predict what products will sell and who will buy them, governments can better understand voter preferences, healthcare providers can identify high-risk patients, LinkedIn can build a comprehensive profile of members and their networks, and Netflix’s machine learning algorithms identify what programmes to promote and when.

Statista estimates that 3.8 billion people (that’s 48.3% of the global population) are now using smartphones. Data is being accumulated faster than ever before – with every link clicked, item added to a virtual shopping basket, and video shared on social media. It’s easy to see why a data engineer plays such an integral role within a business.

Average salaries and earning potential in the IT sector

The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) and HESA’s Graduate Outcomes both list IT as one of the best-paying industries for graduates.

For a graduate, an average salary will depend on a variety of aspects, including what the job is, individual skill set and experience, who the company is, and where they are located.

Prospects provides a useful tool where you can search for starting salaries, average salaries, and future salaries by job title and job sector. For example:

  • A data scientist can expect to start on £25,000-£40,000 (depending on knowledge and work experience), rising to £40,000-£60,000 within a few years, with those in chief and senior data scientist jobs earning in excess of £60,000-£100,000
  • A business analyst can expect to start on £21,000-£31,000, rising to £32,000-£38,000 with approximately five years’ experience, with experienced business analysts earning in excess of £39,000-£50,000
  • A machine learning engineer can expect to start on £35,000 (the average UK salary for a more experienced engineer is £52,000) and can rise to as much as £170,000 if working for a large, multinational company such as Google, Facebook or Microsoft
  • A data analyst can expect to start on £23,000-£25,000, rising to £30,000-£35,000 with a few years’ experience, with experienced or consultant data analysts earning upwards of £60,000
  • A cyber security analyst can expect to start on £25,000-£35,000, with experienced analysts earning £35,000-£60,000, and higher-level managerial and leadership positions paying in excess of £70,000

It’s a great tool to explore future career paths and aspirations, and can guide thinking towards a suitable data science course.

What is data science?

According to Oracle, data science combines multiple fields – including statistics, scientific methods, artificial intelligence and data analysis – to extract value from data. Data scientists identify the questions that need answering and find the relevant data in order to answer them.

Their specialisation is to provide insights to help support, guide and clarify business decisions. A data science team may use data pipelines to automate the flow of data from source to destination. Data science roles are therefore critical to companies who want to streamline their data management, use data to optimise their product or service offerings, and identify how effective their current operations are and how they might evolve.

Job opportunities in the field of data science are broad. For example, some roles may focus on data engineering and data mining, others on business analytics and algorithms.

What specialist skills are employers looking for?

The skills required by companies depend on their overarching aims, technological needs, and the job roles necessary to meet these. The roles themselves vary significantly: where some businesses require a statistician or data analyst, others may be looking for a software engineer or data architect.

The technical data science skills required may include:

  • Programming skills and programming languages – for example, Java, Python, R, MatLab, SQL
  • Data visualisation for analytics
  • Statistical data analytics and databases – for example, using SAS
  • Design and programming
  • User interaction design
  • Processing large data sets and data management – for example, using Hadoop or Spark
  • Software engineering
  • Web technologies and security
  • Machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence

Gain specialist skills and expertise in computing and data science

Interested in developing your skills and knowledge to launch or expand your data science career? Searching for online courses to help advance your computer science proficiency?

Join Keele University, and acquire the skills and knowledge to succeed in the high-growth sector of computer science with our online MSc Computer Science with Data Analytics programme.

Designed to prepare you for a wide range of careers at companies who are investing in data analytics to deliver superior goods and services, you’ll be well placed to kick start your career, or bring new skills and innovations to your current role.

Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework – Also Top 5 in the UK (THE ranking broad based universities)
97% of research ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally important’ (latest Research Excellence Framework)
Top 3 in UK for business and administrative courses (PTES 2019)
96% Graduate Employability (HESA - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2017)

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