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Demand for UK big data specialists to increase by 92% over next five years

Those skilled in big data can earn 20% more pay than other IT staff

11 December 2012 - New research from e-skills UK and SAS, the leader in business analytics software and services, has revealed demand for big data specialists in the UK will almost double over the next five years. Job vacancies for these roles have increased by 43% in the past year and this is set to grow by 92% through to 2017.

In the past five years there have been over 35,000 advertised vacancies for big data staff in the UK, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the majority of cases employers are looking to develop their in-house capacity for handling big data by recruiting developers, architects, analysts and administrators. The data scientist role is also set to emerge over the next five years, although this remains a relatively niche occupation to date, accounting for (at least in name) a very small proportion of overall demand in this area.

Data is growing exponentially. A study earlier this year by the Centre for Economics and Business Research estimated that big data could be worth £216 billion to the UK economy over the next five years. One of the major obstacles preventing the UK from harnessing this value from data is a lack of analytical skills in the workplace. In order to truly exploit the benefits of big data, the UK needs a new breed of professionals able to maximise the potential of mass information to give companies significant competitive advantage.

To address the lack of graduates in the marketplace with the right skills needed by industry, SAS has launched the SAS Student Academy. This started through a joint initiative with Birmingham City University, giving educational institutions the ability to train students in the real-life SAS skills that are so in demand.

"The research conducted with e-skills UK supports our own concerns, as well as those of our customers and partners, that we are already experiencing serious skills shortages," explained Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director, SAS UK & Ireland. "The SAS Student Academy is designed not only to equip students with the big data analytics skills that are so desperately required, but in so doing to help UK businesses take advantage of the innovation and efficiency big data can deliver. Unless we act now, the UK risks falling behind countries like China and India where investment in these skills is on the rise."

Professor Melvyn Lees, Executive Dean of Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment at Birmingham City University, said: "With a generous provision of software, teaching materials and advice and access to blue-chip SAS customers, the SAS Student Academy will give students what they need to succeed in an increasingly data-driven world. Students will be able to meet SAS customers at dedicated careers fairs that have been put together purely to connect students of the SAS Student Academy with potential employers."

Professor Lees also explained why SAS came to BCU to launch its pioneering skills academy: "SAS wanted to work with an educational institution that has the skills and ability to create a successful student academy which recognises the importance of students learning industry-ready skills. Birmingham City University has an outstanding record of starting up academies of this nature."

Karen Price, CEO at e-skills UK, added: "Big Data has been important to business thinking for some years, but it has proved difficult to find reliable information on the size and scope of skills needs. We are delighted to be working with SAS to provide key research that will enable employers, academics and students make firm decisions about training and development needs in this rapidly growing area. We congratulate SAS and Birmingham City University in working together to provide students with outstanding learning opportunities, and employers with highly trained and motivated future employees."

To date, seven educational institutions have signed the letter of intent to join the SAS Student Academy. In addition, three institutions have already started teaching or implementing the SAS Student Academy: the Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown, University West of Scotland and Birmingham City University.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

To download headline findings from the new report please click here.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 60,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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