Most data professionals ‘still lacking the basic skills’

skills2Data skills are considered more important than ever in business, but less than a quarter (23%) of data professionals – dubbed the “data champions” – deliver value from business information, with the vast majority falling down on even the most basic skills.

So says the European Data Skills Survey, published by analytics automation company Alteryx, which reveals that while the historic digital skills gap centred on a lack of hireable talent, a new phenomenon is emerging around the skills set of those available to hire.

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

While seven in ten (71%) data professionals recognise the Covid pandemic has increased the importance of having strong data skills to make informed business decisions, the majority of believe more training will result in better (75%) and faster (69%) decisions.

Interestingly, three quarters (73%) classify their data skills as above average yet only 23% of data workers are delivering any business value.

And, when it came to basic data handling skills, only around a third (32%) where confident they could identify trustworthy data, and a similar proportion (34%) knew how to clean data and share data securely (38%).

“Data champions”, however, say their skills enable them to not only save money (75%), but also generate additional revenue (68%), and deliver business value (82%).

Alteryx chief data and analytics officer Alan Jacobson commented: “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 professionals appear unable to deliver on what is needed to drive this transformation forward.”

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