Candidates experienced in data edging out those with data science degrees, finds Qlik study


Global enterprises are gradually shifting towards candidates with demonstrable experience with data compared to those with data science degrees. According to a survey of global business decision makers commissioned by data and analytics firm Qlik on behalf of the Data Literacy Project, 59% of APAC and global enterprises surveyed ranked prior job experience as the top indicator of a candidate's data literacy. A case study interview where a candidate is presented with and must solve an example business problem to demonstrate their data skills, was also listed as the top indicator alongside job experience.

Also, 21% of business decision makers in APAC and 18% globally said a data-skills certification, something that can be earned well after college or formal education, was "the best indicator" of a job seeker's data literacy and demonstrated the ability to use the techniques most required today.

By contrast, only 15% of respondents in APAC and 18% globally viewed a Bachelor or Master degree in science, let alone data science, or even a Doctorate degree as their primary consideration when hiring. According to Qlik, the results show that the opportunity to take advantage of improved career prospects and salaries associated with data literacy is not limited to those with degrees in data science or science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.

Also, 57% of businesses in APAC and 63% globally are actively seeking candidates in all parts of their organisation who can demonstrate their ability to use, work with and analyse data.

This offers a good opportunity for those who can demonstrate such valuable skills. Quoting IBM, Qlik said that individuals with a foundational understanding of data and analytics will account for a third of the job market, with a projected increase of 110,000 (14%) positions by 2020.

Qlik said this is "unsurprising" due to the huge growth opportunity for data literate organisations, more specifically those with higher levels of individual data skills, data dispersion across the enterprise, and data decision making. Qlik's Data Literacy Index unveiled last October revealed that large enterprsies that are more data literate experience 3% to 5% higher enterprise value, which represented an additional US$320 to US$534 million for the surveyed organisations.

Despite the increase in popularity of individuals with experience in data, Qlik said that data science and analytics professions, which include all data-informed roles from data scientists and data analysts, to business analysts and data-enabled marketing managers, typically remain open for 45 days. Nonetheless, these highly sought-after skills can help individuals become more valuable to employers and translate into higher personal income, especially since just 24% of global employees are confident in their data literacy abilities, Qlik said.

That said, while companies recognise the value of on-the-job experience and data certifications, 50% of companies globally do not offer data literacy training to their own employees. Only 36% of decision makers in APAC and 34% globally say they have programmes in place.

Jordan Morrow, head of data literacy at Qlik and chair of the Data Literacy Project, said organisations are increasingly understanding the value is not in having data, but transforming their data into value to make better decisions.

"We’re seeing this increased appreciation translating into greater opportunities for data-literate individuals. We hope these findings will encourage those at every stage of their career to embark upon learning or improving their own data skills so they can start reaping its rewards," Morrow added.