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How Complicated is the Data Science Population? A Comprehensive Look at IBM, McKinsey, & LinkedIn Reports

By Metis  • July 30, 2019

Photo by LYCS Architecture via Unsplash

This is a guest post written by the Initiative for Analytics and Data Science Standards (IADSS)

Do you think bad things can happen when people who are not qualified are analyzing your data? In the new world, failure to use data properly likely means the failure of your business… 

With the rapid increase in the demand for analytics and data science market, two main problems stand against the healthy growth of the industry:

  • 1) The shortage of employees with deep analytical skills.
  • 2) Confusion in the market on who can claim to be a data scientist.

The shortage and diversifying skills and educational backgrounds of existing workforce indicates a need for standardization in the market; role definitions, skill-set requirements, and career advancement paths are only first steps in defining how a data science and analytics organization should evolve.

In order to address this, our community partner IADSS (Initiative for Analytics and Data Science Standards) has been collecting insight from the industry and the academic world and is running extensive research to propose industry standards. On May 1st of 2019, Usama Fayyad (Co-founder of IADSS) shared interesting findings about the Analytics and Data Science market to date with the community at his keynote speech at ODSC Boston. Here is a detailed look into the story. Click here to get involved in IADSS’ research study to set analytics and data science standards.

According to Anthony, there are 1.5 to 3 million data scientists all over the world. While this is very impressive for a title which did not exist (let’s say) 20 years ago, it is very tough to estimate the total numbers for all BI, Analytics, and Data Science professionals. IBM made a prediction that, by 2020, the number of jobs for all US data professionals will increase to 2,720,000 annual openings. Data scientists, data developers, and data engineers- will account for 700,000 of these openings and 59% of the job demands will be in Finance and Insurance, Professional Services, and IT industries.

Speaking of Kaggle, the platform recently announced its updated member base. By 2018, the total number of members are 2,500,000 and 1.55 M of them logged-in to the platform at least once in 2018. The member base is 600 times larger than it was is in 2010 and the continuous upward trend after 2016 is especially impressive, there seem to be no signs of slowing down. 

There are actually other concerted efforts conducted at different times and amazingly have indicated the same results. In 2011, McKinsey forecasted that the US could face a shortage of 150-190K people with deep analytical skills by 2018; which is verified by LinkedIn 2018 Workforce Report, as there is an actual shortage of 151K people with “data science skills”. Another insight from LinkedIn 2017 US Emerging Jobs Report tells us that, the top two growing jobs has been Machine Learning Engineers and Data Scientists between 2012 and 2017. Actually, 4 out of the 10 highest growing jobs are various data science roles:

What about analytics and data science education? According to IBM, about 200-700K new grads are joining the global job market annually. The number of graduate programs offering degrees in Analytics, Data Science and Business Analytics grew enormously according to the latest research conducted by the Institute for Advanced Analytics. By 2019, the number of programs in these fields has almost reached 300 levels in the United States.

Despite having similar names and objectives, the course offerings and the approach of these programs vary widely, which is also true for undergraduate programs and even for online platforms, such as Udacity and Coursera.

Even though the new data science and analytics program openings in the United States seem to be slowing down in terms of growth rate in the last two years, there is enough information to conclude that the Data Science market has been growing enormously (Actually faster than the education programs), and there are not enough professionals who have the necessary data & analytical skills. So, here comes the 3rd crucial question: 

Does the existing workforce show enough competency to fulfill the need? 

In order to get insights into the gap between job-market openings and actual employee profiles, we are conducting an analysis with more than 3000 individual profiles and 500 job-postings on job platforms. An initial insight into this data was already published, earlier at IADSS blog. To hear the latest insight into the research, you may follow IADSS on Twitter & YouTube.

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