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IT profession takes a hit from Big Data

It appears like the shelf life of IT professionals has expired. Not only there is a drop in the demand for IT professionals, the wages have been superseded by a flood of coveted big data roles. According to report by Tech Partnership, while there was a 9% drop in IT vacancies, there is an increase in adverts for big data staff by 41%.

Further, the government funded body revealed a discrepancy between demand and salary for IT and big data professionals. While both ranked well above the average UK median salary of £27,000, IT roles were offered an average of £42,000 and big data professionals £55,000.

Tech partnership, a UK government funded body also revealed a discrepancy between demand and salary for both IT and big data professionals. While IT roles were offered an average of £42,000, big data professionals bagged in £55,000. While the numbers are specific to UK, the trend is observed in India too, where IT companies are increasingly focusing on the Analytics industry.

According to Tech Partnership, businesses were looking primarily for developers to assist with their big data efforts. This constituted about 41% of the total adverts followed by 10% for architects. Only a meagre 2% of the adverts used the term data scientist and the rest of the adverts were either for consultant or analyst roles in 2013. This is a tenfold increase in demand for roles in big data projects over the past 5 years.

Using this research, Tech Partnership predicts that by 2020 nearly 346,000 big data specific jobs would be created.

Enterprise will miss out on data science surge

The report, sponsored by analytics software SAS, stated: “Not having the right tools and people could be a barrier to competitive advantage – not to mention economic growth – put upward pressure on big data salaries, and lead to burn-out among the precious big data specialists.”

Computer science was still the most highly desired skill for a data scientist, despite the difference in demand and wage value for Big Data as opposed to IT roles. Right behind computer science is software engineering and agile software development.

Struggling to recruit

Sue Warman, SAS’ HR director advised businesses who are looking to gain a competitive edge using data scientists in-house need to know for sure what they are looking for in a candidate. However, she added that they shouldn’t expect candidates to be able to cover all of both soft and technical skills and should focus on hiring complementary teams.

Warman said: “We are expecting people to be all singing all dancing and that is causing stress. People are not programmed that way. At the moment, as this data science field comes together, we are expecting people to be all encompassing. You cannot be all things, so what will naturally happen is we will understand the space more effectively and will start to design companies more effectively…We are catching this in its early infancy…and it is ill formed.”

Andy Cutler, Director of Strategy at SAS added: “The nirvana is someone who understands data, who understands maths and stats and is capable of standing up in front of a group of business people.”

Data scientist Dr Mohammad Abbas told ComputerworldUK that often interviews he has found businesses seem unsure of what value his skills could bring and appear to be ticking boxes that they do not fully understand.

Many data scientists often find that during the interviews, they are being interviewed on wrong things as the understanding of businesses is limited. One of them had said: “Rather than asking me what I could do for the business, what insight I could bring, they [interviewer] asked if I could ‘do complex SAS code’. That doesn’t mean anything.”

The study found that 77 percent of all recruiters surveyed struggled to hire data scientists throughout 2013, a 20 percent increase on 2012.

Businesses including MI5, PricewaterhouseCoopers, HMRC and British Airway gathered yesterday at the SAS big data festival in Brunel University to recruit graduates into their data analysis arms.

The study used data from Experiean, the Office for National Statistics and IT Jobwatch. It also concluded a web survey with 70 responses from businesses.


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