Data analysis skills gap ?

person learning data skills

Data Strategy

As part of the National Data Strategy, there’s a tremendous push underway by the UK Government to develop data skills across UK industry and the Public Sector.

For example, Department of Education digital bootcamps, Universities delivering data science and AI training, the Department for Culture Media and Sport boosting data skills amongst university graduates, and the Open Data Institute improving data skills amongst the current workforce.

Given that almost half of UK businesses are trying (and struggling) to recruit for roles requiring advanced data and digital skills, there is a big task ahead. 

This is, therefore, a very welcome commitment by the Government to take the problem by the scruff of the neck – and fix it.

But, there’s an opportunity at risk of being missed, specifically where the skills deficit is felt most keenly – the skills shortage today, amongst the incumbent workforce.

Learning and Development (L&D) Colleagues need to be centre stage for this strategy to work.  Within the National Strategy, however, they appear not to be mentioned at all.

Team skills

The focus within the Data Strategy is very much upon the individual and the qualifications they will earn (e.g. CPD points, academic accreditations), but less perhaps upon Public and Private Sector organisations and the specific skills they need.

If the development of the strategy is about realising the economic value of data e.g. by using it to boost productivity, trigger innovation, grow new business, create jobs, teams need to have a common, shared, and well documented set of skills that are specific to the needs of each organisation.

This means training teams and not just individuals, and having the skills recognised as an organisational asset that needs to be managed. 

E.g. L&D Colleagues documenting the skills acquired within a skills framework, researching additional skills, organising training materials, reinforcing skills through refresher training.

Without this organisational focus, the ability for a organisation to embed and maintain a set of skills becomes all the more difficult. 

E.g. if someone who studied modules from a data related degree programme (to earn CPD points) leaves the organisation, it might not be clear what skills are departing with them, or how their successor should acquire the same set of skills.   Do they need to study the same set of Modules?

If, however, their skills had already been well documented and shared by others within the team, the impact felt from a Colleagues’ departure will be far less. 

If the successor focuses their learning effort initially upon skills prioritised by the team, they can be brought quickly up to speed.  They will also benefit from the shared knowledge already present within the team, as well as learning resources which are specific to the teams’ requirements.

Any additional learning, e.g. in order to earn CPD points, can also be referenced back to the needs of the team and the business.

Examples are emerging of organisations targeting skills development under the management of L&D services.  E.g.

  • NHS England and NHS Improvement tendered for the provision of ‘A tailored suite of digital resources and facilitation of workshops specifically for HR Business Partners to upskill analytical capabilities’. The tender was prepared and published by NHS L&D staff.
  • The Manchester City Growth Hub tendered for training services to work with SMEs within the City. This would also involve a tailored suite of training materials and workshops.

In both cases, the focus was upon managed learning around a specific set of highly relevant analytical skills referenced to the organisation rather than the individual.

Data analytical skills that matter

Approaches to developing skills such as these may appear to be resource intensive.  However:

  • Training is focused upon skills that are of immediate relevance to the business.
  • Training can be based upon real challenges facing the business. Payback from it is therefore immediate.
  • A team may need to be trained once only. L&D Colleagues can facilitate refresher training presented by members of the team plus further self-learning structured around a skills framework under their management.
  • Recruitment costs are reduced as the focus switches away from recruiting people with specialist skills to training people already in-house.

At FiguringOutData.com we deliver specialist analytical skills training for teams, and have done so for many years through Professional Institutes and the BPP University.  We also develop data and business analysis solutions so we practice the skills that we teach.

That said, a challenge facing many organisations is that they may not know what skills they need.  They may be investing in technology along with the training needed to put the technology to work.  But the wider question of how value is unlocked from data, that the National Data Strategy is endeavouring to answer, may leave organisations unclear about how to move forward.

This is where L&D Colleagues have an opportunity to play a central role. 

If you can develop a skills framework that addresses the growing need for data analytics across your organisation, you will be equipping it to put data to work in the most effective way.

This is where we can help

In addition to our training services, we work with L&D teams to develop skills strategies to further the use of data analytics.  To find out more about how we can help you, then please get in touch using the details below.

And to see an example of the training services we offer please go to https://figuringoutdata.com/public-sector/

Data skills gap in your organisation?  Time for L&D to step to the fore.

Paul Clarke

Director

FiguringOutData.com Ltd

Tel: +44 333 301 0302

paul@figuringoutdata.com

We help organisations to develop data strategy, and we train your people to build and use data to unlock value.

If you would like to know more about how we can be of help please complete the form below.