This joint policy briefing from Nesta and Universities UK draws on two research reports on the state of supply and demand for analytical skills in the UK to make recommendations on how to upgrade data analysis education and skills provision.
Data is transforming the economy, increasing efficiency and creating new opportunities for innovation. We are constantly generating data, from changes in how we shop, communicate and meet, to the clothes we wear and the gadgets we use, and businesses and government are becoming more adept at creating value from this. The UK, referred to by some as ‘The Connected Kingdom’, is particularly well–placed to benefit. But if data is the new oil, logically, it won’t be useful to business until refined. That requires analytical skills.
The recommendations in this briefing span the whole analytical talent pipeline, including schools, colleges, universities and the labour market and industry. The recommendations aim to remedy skills shortages in the short term, while ensuring a sustainable supply of excellent analytical talent in the longer term. Additionally, the recommendations encourage cross–sector collaboration so that knowledge about how to create value from data and awareness of analytical skills shortages are not trapped in siloes, but are widely shared.
The data revolution has implications not only for experts with advanced analytical skills (i.e. data scientists), but for the entire workforce. Our recommendations reflect the diversity of analytical skills levels which are needed, and also suggest creating early ‘touch points’ between young people and data, acknowledging that in some cases these will mark the beginning of a life–long analytical career, while in others it will involve raising awareness and confidence in using data, whatever the occupation.
Juan Mateos-Garcia, George Windsor and Sam Roseveare