In Part 1 we saw an overview of Data Science and how a Data Scientist comes into picture.
Let’s now look into some of the challenges firms face in finding these skilled data scientists and what measures they could take to overcome the same.
There should be no surprises that there are currently just a handful of skilled data scientists in the market, since the skill set of a data scientist is so vast ranging from the knowledge of Physics & Mathematics to Data Mining & Visualization, and needless to say only firms like Facebook & Google will be able to hire these folks. So what must the other firms do to find these people?
They know for a fact that they can’t compete with these big guns and pay hefty packages. But if they do realize the value & potential of data science, it’s time for them to make inroads and come up with strategies to nurture the available talent.
The first thing that comes to mind would be to hire students straight out of graduate schools and train them in the required skills. But this may not work out all that well, as these folks might possess strong technical skills in BI related subjects but will be found wanting when applying them to the business needs.
Instead, I believe companies should collaborate with some of the top universities and groom students who are interested in data science through the program. Companies may not be able to realize the benefits immediately by adopting this approach, but a few years down the line, they are bound to get the rewards.
According to this article on Fortune, Stanford University’s course on data mining is packed with more than 120 students in contrast to 20 students five years back. So we see the trend of increase of interest among the students to pursue these courses. If firms take the initiative to provide funding for research on data science related topics or provide opportunities for students to work on real-world projects and internships, there is bound to be an even sharper increase of interest among the students.
In a recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute – By 2018 United States could face a shortage of up to 190,000 workers with analytical skills. Given this, there can’t possibly be a better way for firms to reap the benefits of data science, than grooming students from top universities.
Nurturing talent from these Universities will not only bring a wider horizon of skilled data scientists for the companies to choose from, but will also in all probability mark a re-birth for courses like Statistics & Mathematics which seems to have lost its charm in this technology age!