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Model Workers: How leading companies are recruiting and managing data talent

This report looks at the data skills that leading companies look for, and the implications for policy and management.

Creating big value from big data requires the right skills. This report looks at the data skills that leading companies look for, and the implications for policy and management.

Key Findings

  • Companies across the economy are moving towards a world of bigger, messier, faster data.
  • Creating value from that data requires talent with a new mix of skills – including analysis, coding, business sense and creativity.
  • Four out of every five companies we interviewed say that they struggle to find talent with those skills.
  • Policymakers, educators and industry need to consider how to address these skills shortages by upgrading workforce skills, improving the supply of data talent from education, and changing perceptions of data work as dull and boring.
  • Managers need to find, team-up and organise their data talent. We identify a set of good practices being used by the companies we interviewed to do this.

Everyone knows that creating value from big data requires the right skills, but what does this mean in practice? 

This report draws on 45 interviews with leading businesses to explore the skills implications of the data revolution, including the following questions:

  • What are the data analysis skills needs of leading companies?
  • What are the barriers to accessing top data talent in the UK?
  • What good management practices can be adopted to build high-performing data teams?
  • How do policy and education need to change to improve the supply of data talent

It is the first output of a collaboration between Nesta, Creative Skillset and The Royal Statistical Society aimed at creating robust, independent and actionable evidence about the skills implications of the data revolution for UK policymakers, educators and managers. We will be publishing a follow up report based on a larger survey of UK business, and information about the supply of data-savvy graduates from UK universities later on in the year.

Authors
Hasan Bakhshi, Juan Mateos-Garcia, Andrew Whitby

Authors

Andrew Whitby

Andrew Whitby

Andrew Whitby

Research Fellow, Creative Economy

Andrew was a Research Fellow focusing on the creative and digital economy. His work looked at new techniques in data science - both as a method for studying the creative and digital ...

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Juan Mateos-Garcia

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Juan Mateos-Garcia

Head of Innovation Mapping

Juan is the head of innovation mapping at Nesta. There, he leads a team of data scientists, developers, visualisers and innovation experts working in projects using new datasets, ana...

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Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics

Hasan leads Nesta's creative and digital economy policy and research.

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