Graduates with big data skills in high demand
Huge opportunity for graduates in STEM subjects, with 69,000 big data specialists needed by 2017
28 November 2013 - As UK businesses look to exploit the proliferation of data to support evidence-based decisions in the information economy, it's becoming ever more critical that they hire staff with the big data skills to meet this challenge. This means high demand for university students graduating with these skills who can command above average starting salaries, despite the drop in university applications.
Since 2011, university applications in the UK have fallen by 4.2 per cent, as an increasing number of school leavers shun a university education in favour of apprenticeships or immediate employment. However, a university education can still pay for those with the analytical skills to tackle big data, who can command a starting salary of anything up to £32,000 - a £6,500 head start on the average starting salary of £25,500.
The Government's 'Strategy for UK Data Capability' published earlier this month recognises the need for Government strategy, in partnership with industry and academia, to set direction and leadership for UK data capability. Brunel University is today hosting the SAS Careers Fair - putting 300 students from 15 universities in direct contact with 10 key SAS customers and partners including Barclays, British Airways, Nationwide, PwC and Accenture. Between them these businesses have more than 100 graduate vacancies for data analysts.
Recent research from SAS, the leader in business analytics, and e-skills UK, the employer body for the digital industries, found that three out of five large UK organisations find it challenging to hire people with the specialist big data skills they need. With fierce competition from nations such as China and India, where the level of investment in skills and training is on the rise, British employers and universities must do more to stoke interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects if Britain is to compete in the global information economy. Uptake in university courses providing data analytics skills needs to be much higher if home-grown graduates are to fill the current and projected big data skills shortage. Demand for big data specialists is expected to rise by 243 per cent over the next five years – to around 69,000 people - guaranteeing employment and an enviable starting salary for graduates.
Dr Liam Fox MP speaking at the event commented: "The global information economy represents an opportunity for the UK to take a leading role, where sourcing individuals with the relevant skills is imperative. For this to happen it's vital that Government, industry and universities all work together to ensure that graduates leave university with the skills the economy needs."
The UK government's information economy strategy announced earlier this year stated: 'Business sectors across the economy are being transformed by data, analytics, and modelling. The UK now has the opportunity to take a lead in the global efforts to deal with the volume, velocity and variety of data created each day.'
Mark Wilkinson, managing director, SAS UK & Ireland commented: "We're looking forward to using the SAS Careers Fair as a way of bringing to life the demand that's really out there, and highlighting the opportunities for the data scientists of tomorrow. SAS is passionate about helping bridge the gap between the businesses calling out for these skills and the universities which produce graduates to meet this demand."
Andrew George, Vice-Principal, Education & International at Brunel University, said: "We are delighted to be hosting the SAS Careers Fair, where we will be showcasing the opportunities within the new information economy that students across the UK can embrace for a long and prosperous career.
"Brunel University has always been an industry-focussed institution. With big data analytics forecast to be a major growth area for the UK economy, we are pleased that both the Business School and the School of Computing are stepping up to the mark to deliver the skills needed, through new MSc degrees in Data Science and Business Analytics, our undergraduate SAS programming modules, and our Business Life programme."
SAS UK is committed to developing the skills that will develop big data analytics as an enabler of the UK Government's information economy vision, and for the past 10 years has invested more than £60-million in providing 70 universities across the country with access to its solutions.
In addition to this SAS has developed SAS Curriculum Pathways, as an online resource for secondary school teachers and students, which now has more than 300 schools signed up. It also launched the SAS Student Academy programme last year, which gives educational institutions the ability to train students in big data skills. There are already 16 academies in universities across the UK.
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