Employee’s digital skills not being nurtured, despite growing need for data literacy

The majority of UK employees recognise the importance of data literacy to their career progression, but half have never been offered any relevant training. Statistics from a study of over 3,000 UK employees shows they understand the growing significance of data within their organisation, with almost all (94 percent) of those surveyed stateing that they consider data to be important for performing their role. Data skills were ranked as fourth in a list of the most important skills for their job – with only traditional, ‘soft’ skills such as ‘communication’, ‘organisation’ and ‘people management’ ranking higher. Yet the Censuswide survey, commissioned by Tableau revealed that despite four in five professionals (84 percent) believing data skills will be important for their career progression and a similar percentage (83 percent) using data on a weekly basis as part of their role, nearly half (49 percent) say their employer hasn’t offered them any kind of data analytics training.

According to Tableau’s SVP EMEA James Eiloart, what’s slowing down organisations from adopting a data-driven culture is the current lack of urgency given to data skills training.

He argues: “As the digitalisation of things continues, reams of data are being created every second, representing a great opportunity for companies.  But data is only valuable when business insights are gleaned from it and that comes by putting data in the hands of employees.  Our research shows that employers and employees recognise this, but training up employees on data literacy skills just isn’t keeping pace.”

With the use of AI, IoT and machine learning becoming rapidly adopted by today’s enterprises, getting actionable value from the data resulting from these technologies will be crucial for businesses to compete and thrive.  Even as STEM services rise on the political agenda in an effort to close the growing skills gap, Tableau’s study demonstrates that current training courses in data analytics aren’t keeping pace with the changing business landscape.

Additionally, despite an employer-focused study released by LinkedIn last year revealing that ‘statistical analysis and data mining’ was the number one skill to get you hired in the UK, Tableau’s report suggests companies aren’t as focused on nurturing these skills in existing staff as they could be.

Companies that are successfully leveraging new technologies for business success are doing so alongside training – even at a basic level – that provides foundational data analytics skills to employees.

The full ranking of skills employees stated as important, were:

  1. Communication skills (64 percent)
  2. Organisational skills (47 percent)
  3. People management (41 percent)
  4. Data skills (32 percent)
  5. Leadership (21 percent)
  6. Presentation skills (16 percent)
  7. Budgeting/forecasting skills (11 percent)
  8. Design/creativity skills (8 percent)
  9. Digital media skills (4 percent)

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