New Report Highlights Growing Demand for Data Science, Analytics Talent

Steps for Higher Ed and Business Recommended


Last week, the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), in collaboration with PwC, released a report that projects continued growth and demand for graduates with data science and analytical skills. “Investing in America’s Data Science and Analytics Talent: The Case for Action” also provides recommendations to the education and business sectors for preparing students and best using the current workforce to fulfill present expectations, as well as shaping projections for future business development.

New Report Highlights Growing Demand for Data Science, Analytics Talent

Specifically, the report cites that nearly 70% of business leaders in the United States will prefer job applicants with data skills by 2021. While the research cites 2.35 million documented data science and analytics-related job postings in 2015, it projects the number to grow to 2.72 million by 2020. It also says the talent shortfall will extend to existing job classifications from the executive suite to frontline jobs—all of which are increasingly enabled by analytics. These findings buttress research conducted last fall by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and sponsored by the ASA that showed more public and private sector employers are adding statisticians and data analysts to their ranks.

“The ASA has long advocated the value of equipping students with data science and analytical thinking skills, not only in their individual lives and careers, but also for their employers and society as a whole,” said ASA Executive Director Ron Wasserstein. “This new report by BHEF and PwC echoes that sentiment and further serves as a call to action that both the academic and business communities have an amazing opportunity to recognize statistics and data science as scientific disciplines, expand the learning environment/opportunities for future students, and embrace graduates for the unique skill set they contribute to the economy and society in today’s global data revolution.”

In addition to focusing on data science skills, the report touches on the need for positive and collaborative communication skills—something the ASA has been hearing about from employers. Having effective interpersonal as well as verbal and written communication skills is a must, as the report states, “Employers will need data-driven, multidisciplinary teams to tackle their biggest problems and grasp their most promising opportunities.”

As part of its research, BHEF and PwC recommend education do the following to change the supply-demand challenge:

  • Use data science to build multidisciplinary strength
  • Enable all students to become data literate and open more routes to data science
  • Strengthen alignment with societies that drive professional conduct
  • Expand the career pathways that lead to a diverse analytics workforce

Among other recommendations, the report urges investments in market-driven programs that link learning with work and modernizations of training and development to promote long-term employability.

Read more about the ASA and SHRM’s recent research on the supply and demand for data analysis skills and positions.