The popularity of data science careers is plummeting among 16-21 year olds, but the demand for data scientists and engineers has never been higher. For companies trying to innovate, this is a problem.

Data science isn’t cool anymore, at least that’s what young people are saying.

Image: Dmitry Kovalchuk / Getty Images

Employers could face future shortages of skilled digital professionals as the popularity of data science drops among young people.

According to a survey by analytics platform Exasol, less than half (49%) of 16-21 year olds in the UK see data science as a career option, despite young people having many ideal skills for technological careers.

Research suggests that companies and educators alienate young people from the field of data science because they don’t do a good enough job of communicating the importance and application of data in easy-to-understand terms.

With the increase in demand for data scientists and engineers, it will become increasingly difficult for companies to innovate and stay competitive if they fail to encourage more people to take on these roles, said Peter Jackson, Director of Data and Analytics at Exasol.

“Data-driven decision making is gaining popularity and has an increasing impact on profitability, reducing the operating costs of organizations and improving the resilience of businesses, especially as we begin to emerge from the pandemic,” said Jackson told TechRepublic.

“If data science continues to lose popularity among young people, companies may run out of new ways to solve their data problems. ”

SEE: Hiring Kit: Video Game Designer (TechRepublic Premium)

Businesses today rely heavily on data to help them identify challenges, capitalize on opportunities, and make timely decisions that can impact their bottom line. As a result, the demand for data scientists and data engineers has more than tripled since 2013.

Yet Exasol found that these roles were rapidly losing popularity among younger generations, with researchers suggesting that the
terminology and technical jargon

associated with data science was too difficult for young people to understand.

“Young people are not familiar with jargon such as ‘data literacy’, ‘algorithm’, ‘machine learning’ or ‘big data,’ said Jackson, who said it demonstrates a ‘clear disconnect’ between the language used by young people; and the use of the language by employers to advertise careers in data.

More than half of the 51% of the 1,000 16-21 year olds surveyed by Exasol were unfamiliar with the term “data literacy”, while 50% did not know what “big data” was.

Researchers also found that young people may not be aware that they have many of the skills and attributes applicable to data analytics jobs, or that the skills they want to highlight in their careers feature strongly in the roles. techniques.

Think twice before using metaphors to explain complex technology


This includes communicating (39%), decision making (34%), problem solving (33%), seeking information (32%), asking questions (30%), telling stories stories (23%) and math (20%). These were also consistent with what respondents described as key characteristics of data scientists: math, problem solving, analytics, intelligence, and confidence.

There is still work to be done to “sell” data science careers to young people, said Jackson, who called on the data science industry to work with schools to develop a curriculum around the concepts of science. Datas.

“When it comes to education, these young people recognize that the education system must also prepare them better, teaching them not only to understand the data, but also to communicate it,” said Jackson.

He added: “We need to bring data to life to make it more attractive and ‘human’.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in the UK labor market, causing a shift in the types of jobs available and the skills employers are looking for – with technology at the top of the list.

The skills shortage is already here

The Exosol research comes the same week that City & Guilds data points to
a growing technological skills gap in the UK.

According to the latest annual City & Guilds Skills Index, demand for digital and tech jobs in the UK increased by 21% from April 2020 to April 2021.

Despite this, more than half of companies (56%) said they faced some sort of barrier in meeting their skills and talent needs, with 28% citing a mismatch between the skills they needed and the skills that students currently acquire through education.

SEE: The Future of Work: Tools and Strategies for the Digital Workplace (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Programming and software skills were among the most in-demand skills for digital and technology roles, including the programming language Python and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure cloud platforms.

The fastest growing position was Cyber ​​Security Technician, with vacancies increasing 19,922% between April 2020 and April 2021.

Other tech roles sought were full-stack engineer (312%), cybersecurity engineers (292%), front-end software engineer (184%), and Azure architect (cloud) (174%).

The report concluded that employers need to better understand the skills they need to meet their talents and operational needs, while calling on educators to review the types of skills they have taught students to better prepare them. to a changing labor market.

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