Young could love data science, if they knew it existed

youthBelieve everything you read and you could be forgiven for thinking young people are gagging to be data scientists; sadly, it seems, this is far from the truth with data careers rapidly falling off the radar of today’s youth.

Despite data roles ticking a lot of boxes in terms of the skills and activities young people want from a future career, businesses and educators are failing to communicate the importance and application of data in easy to understand terms.

So says new research from analytics database company Exasol, which quizzed of more than 1,000 16- to 21-year-olds in the UK and found that half (49%) do not consider data science as a career option.

When asked about their future plans, three-fifths (61%) said they have a clear vision for their career. The most popular skills they want to feature prominently in their ideal job are communicating (39%); decision making (34%); problem solving (33%); finding information (32%); asking questions (30%); telling stories (23%); and maths (20%).

All of which are perfectly suited to the key characteristics of a data scientist – mathematical, problem solving, analytical, intelligence and confidence – Exasol insists.

Yet, despite clear awareness of the impact data and statistics have on their life, many young people are not familiar with terms such as data literacy (51%) or big data (50%), demonstrating a clear disconnect between the language they use and the business words used by employers to advertise data careers.

Exasol chief data officer Peter Jackson said: “Ten years ago, data scientists were in demand thanks to their ability to plug a crucial skills gap and tackle new organisational challenges stemming from the growth of business data. Today, the demand for data scientists and data engineers has more than tripled since 2013.

“In data teams there is room for all sorts of people, from the technical masterminds to the data storytellers that articulate the meaning of that data and turn them into actionable insights for the business.

“Young people have untapped subconscious and habitual data literacy skills ideal for data analysis, storytelling and visualisation of key trends, patterns, and anomalies. Without these future data champions, businesses are in danger of missing out on new ways to solve data challenges today and pushing the boundaries of industry as we know it.”

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