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Digital skills gap widens: 71% of workers say pandemic ‘made data skills more important’

Digital skills gap widens: 71% of workers say pandemic ‘made data skills more important’

Data skills are considered more important than ever in business, but only 23% of European workers deliver business value from data, according to new research.

Analytics automation company Alteryx is highlighting the phase one results of its European Data Skills Survey, which reveals that 71% of workers believe the pandemic has increased ‘the importance of having strong data skills to make informed business decisions.’

Additionally, the majority of workers believe more training in data work would result in better (75%) and faster (69%) decisions.

However, the survey highlights that just 23% of data workers — whom they call the ‘Data Champions’ — are delivering any actual business value. This is despite Alteryx finding that three quarters (73%) classify their data skills as above average.

Despite the clear link between data-driven insights and business agility, this lack of knowledge and skills inflation is stalling business transformation efforts. While the historic digital skills gap centred on a lack of hireable talent, we now see a new phenomenon: a lack of talent in those available to hire.

Hindering every organisation trying to leverage data-driven insights for a competitive edge is this lack of analytic talent.

When it came to basic data handling skills, Alteryx asked how confident workers were in a range of basic data skills including:

• Identifying trustworthy data (32%) • Cleaning data (34%) • Sharing data securely (38%)

The 23% of data champions say skills enable them to not only save money (75%), but also generate additional revenue (68%), and deliver business value (82%).

Alan Jacobson, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Alteryx, comments: “Digital transformation has moved beyond boardroom discussions. It’s now mission critical for businesses to be able to assess, analyse, and adapt to constantly shifting requirements through data.

“Employees with strong data skills are a core requirement for developing business resiliency and the ability to pivot at speed. Despite the inherent value of data-led decision making, there is a critical disconnect between what skills are reported and the reality. The majority of data workers appear unable to deliver on what is needed to drive this transformation forward.”

The research was undertaken by YouGov in June 2021, surveying 3,000 employees across a range of verticals, job functions and seniority across France, Germany and the UK.


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