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Big insights for bright futures

JY Pook, Senior Vice President, APAC, Tableau | June 9, 2016
Data analytics will soon serve as a common language, empowering people to reach insights quickly and collaborate meaningfully in data-smart communities. It will be important for non-analysts to have data analytics skills.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

Educational institutions use data analytics to manage large amounts of data for daily decision-making and long term planning. They are tracking students' performance, registration numbers, funds raising and allocation, etc. However, what is actually being done to help students learn the skills necessary to do data analytics themselves? How can they find deeper answers to their questions, and be prepared with the right skills as they enter the workplace in the current data explosion era?

These are questions that global leaders are trying to answer as the development of skilled data professionals becomes a priority for countries striving to build new and improved future economies. In fact, LinkedIn listed Statistical Analysis and Data Mining as the number two skill in their list of the "25 Professional Skills That Will Be Hot in 2016," and a joint study from Burning Glass Technologies and General Assembly reported that demand for data science skills has tripled over the past five years. In Singapore, the government has recently launched the TechSkills Accelerator, a skills development and job placement hub for the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. In general, this is part of a continued push for the development of IT skills among students and workers, along with the growing accessibility of data for everyone which is in line with the country's Smart Nation initiatives.

Analytics in the classroom

There is no doubt that data analytics has a place in today's classrooms and school curriculum. Data analytics is a powerful tool. When put to good use in educational institutions, data analytics empowers educators and students to find answers, identify trends, make projections, and basically see and understand their data.

In fact, educators have long used data analytics to track student performance. With data analytics, educators can better identify weaker students and determine what steps to take to help these students improve. Many school administrators use analytics too, for managing and tracking budget, registration numbers, and resources.

For students, it is crucial that they get access to analytics tools and learn adequate data analytics skills. Data skills are already much needed in today's workplace. According to the Infocomm Development Authority in Singapore, 15,000 technology professional vacancies could not be filled in 2014. The authority also projected that another 15,000 technology specialists - among them data professionals - will be required by 2017. The need will only continue to grow.

Getting to the answers

Most importantly, data analytics teaching cannot be a class on computer programming. It is key that students get enough time to actually analyze data, ask questions of their data and find their own answers. They should not spend most of the course on figuring out or learning how to use their analytics tools.


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