Data literacy skills are crucial for tomorrow’s workforce

Data literacy is one of the skills most in demand by UK employers. A lack of data literacy within the workforce – the ability to read, work, analyze and communicate with data – is a growing concern that will continue to impact UK businesses, if it is not resolved. For many employees working in a wide range of industries, such as retail, manufacturing, and financial services, the ability to interpret data is now a common and essential task. Once required only for employees in data analytics and business intelligence teams, an organization’s employees, whether in finance, HR, or marketing, must now develop a broader understanding of data, using figures and shared dashboards to make collective and informed decisions. .

About the Author

Dan Pell is the Managing Director and Senior Vice President, EMEA, for Tableau Software.

While part of the solution is investing companies in training and developing their teams, another critical part is to integrate data skills into education. Starting data education early would put the next generation in a strong position to harness the potential of digital transformation; make digital natives data natives too. We’re not there yet – as Tableau’s recent research of school-leavers in the UK shows – but a closer relationship between business and education could help close the gap.

The ripple effect of confinement on employability

New Tableau research has revealed a significant issue for UK businesses regarding the future workforce. For students, the Covid-19 pandemic has stifled their ability to learn essential data skills, with more than half (54%) feeling they missed out on developing data analysis and communication skills – prerequisites for so many professional roles today.

National research, which we conducted to assess skill acquisition by students aged 10 to 13, also found that less than half (47%) of students believe their current school curriculum has prepared them for life. professional. For example, 38% of students do not know the key skills that employers are looking for.

A recent Royal Society report, examining the effects of the lockdown on education, found that school time lost to pandemic regulations could hurt Britain’s economy for the next 65 years, the next generation of young people leaving school being ill-equipped to continue their studies. or jobs.

In compiling Tableau’s research, we partnered with Professor Pat Tissington, Academic Director of Employability and Skills at the University of Warwick, to further explore the data skills gap in the education system. He found that if the UK was to accelerate its economic recovery, it needed to focus on preparing students, at all levels, for the world of work – with a greater emphasis on skills that are becoming increasingly important. and more important to employers, such as data analysis.

While data skills are a crucial part of everyday employee lives, our research reveals that nearly half (47%) of students find the concept of data analytics scary. Even before the pandemic, in the past two years almost half of UK companies (46%) have struggled to recruit for jobs requiring data skills, and a recent report found that the lack of data-driven skills could significantly hamper the UK economy. – costing up to £ 2 billion a year.

Avoiding a data skills crisis

If the UK is to avert a data skills crisis crisis, there is still work to be done to provide students with the digital skills they need for the workplace. For young people across the UK, those who cannot demonstrate the required skills will find it difficult to stand out to employers over other applicants. As we come out of lockdown and take a look at the state of the nation and the level of education provided to our children, there is a fantastic opportunity to rebuild better, as priorities can be realigned to reflect the demands of UK business, today hui and tomorrow.

We can’t expect a major curriculum overhaul overnight, but there are ways to seize learning opportunities as schools, colleges and universities catch up. Several companies, including Tableau, offer data literacy courses for children, youth and adults to help anyone from all walks of life acquire the basic data skills they need to meet their needs. Ever-changing digital employers. For businesses to thrive in the future, they must also play their part by investing in the UK’s digital economy. Providing their future and current workforce with the tools to see and understand data is a crucial part of this.

Dwight E. Schulz