UK firms shun graduates for big data jobs

Only one in 10 UK firms look at new graduates when recruiting for big data projects, with 72% blaming a lack of necessary skills to analyse data effectively, new research has revealed.

According to Teradata, which commissioned the OnePoll survey of UK senior executives, this is part of a wider recruitment problem. With 45% of companies already running a big data project or planning to within the next two years, nearly two-thirds (60%) of these said they are finding it difficult to find the right mix of skills, and only 8% thought this to be an easy task.

The majority (54%) of respondents attributed this to potential recruits, including graduates, not having the right combination of business, analytical and communications skills, while 30% pointed to a lack of experienced candidates.

Universities are answering this challenge by developing data science courses focused strongly on the development of problem-solving skills, according to Mark Whitehorn, emeritus professor of analytics at the University of Dundee.

“Here at Dundee, for example, the School of Computing has worked with big data since 2008, as it has been directly involved in the computational side of the Human Proteome Project, designed to map the entire human protein set,” he said.

“Big data has since grown rapidly in importance in the commercial world, creating huge demand for data science skills. In responding to this, we have been able to build on our existing experience to create a masters course in big data which we believe aligns closely to the needs of business.”     

>See also: Hadoop co-founder believes the future of big data is the Enterprise Data Hub

The findings of the research parallel another recent survey by YouGov, which found that only one in five employers believe that new graduates are ‘work ready’ and armed with the necessary basic attributes, such as team work, communications skills and punctuality.

“When recruiting for big data projects this presents an additional problem in that much of the skills-base required centres not on technology skills but on business skills and understanding, [which are] attributes in particularly short supply in those leaving university,” said Duncan Ross, director data science at Teradata.

“However, as Dundee has shown, this is changing. There are an increasing number of courses looking to redress the balance in academia in delivering technical and business skills.

“At the same time, businesses most successful in harnessing the power of big data are those who look to get the people issues right first and then adopt the most appropriate technology for the big data task to be addressed.”   

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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