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Can online training bridge the big data skills gap?

Sarah K. White | Feb. 18, 2016
As data analytics become vital to businesses around the globe, companies are facing a talent shortage for these skills. This gap has led to more companies turning to online training to get both new and old workers up to speed quickly.

big data

The amount of data generated in the enterprise today is staggering and organizations continue to struggle to find the talent to collect, maintain and analyze it. In 2014, a study by Wanted Analytics found that demand for computer programmers with a background in data grew 337 percent, but that out of the 332,000 computer programmers in America, only 4 percent had the necessary skillsets. As a result, more companies are turning to online training to help employees get up to speed on the vital skills that companies desperately need.

Catching up with online training

Nicole Hajdroski is vice president of training and development at Intercall, a company that offers online training resources that have been used to help bridge the skills gap when it comes to filling big data openings. According to Hajdroski, online training has made all the difference. "Up until a few years ago we did all of our training live, we would bring them here to the office, we would disrupt their days, disrupt their lives and ability to work because we'd have to fly them all here to our HQ in Chicago, do a couple of weeks training with them, then send them back into the field." But five years ago, the company transitioned to an online training platform, and found they were able to get the same results, but without disrupting employees lives.

Whenever there is a shortage of certain skills, job candidates have the upper hand, and employers oftentimes find they need to accommodate more for these in-demand employees. And the competition for these candidates isn't an illusion; RJMetrics reported in late 2015 that 52 percent of all data scientists had earned their title in the past four years and that only 11,400 professionals identified themselves as a data scientist.

Colleges and universities are having trouble keeping pace

Companies don't have time to wait for a fresh crop of students to graduate with their PhD in data science. As with any new skill that grows in relevance faster than graduates are leaving school with the right degrees, it leaves companies with a shortage of qualified candidates. For example, the University of Wisconsin unveiled the first online Data Science degree program in late 2015 in an attempt to help bridge that gap. Similarly, a number of boot camps aimed at educating students in less time for less money have also grown in popularity. But until more programs are established and more students are enrolling, businesses will need to look elsewhere for viable candidates.


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