Navigating the great skills reset? Let’s start with data skills | The Financial Express

Navigating the great skills reset? Let’s start with data skills

All kinds of jobs – existing and new will involve working with data now and into the future.

Navigating the great skills reset? Let’s start with data skills
All kinds of jobs – existing and new will involve working with data now and into the future. (Photo credit: Reuters)

By Anjali Joneja Amar

The wave of people leaving their jobs shows no signs of abating. A recent McKinsey study found that a whopping six in 10 Indian employees are considering leaving their jobs in the near future. A massive reinvention of ideal careers is underway and it isn’t just better remuneration that’s driving people to leave their jobs. In fact, a majority of employees cited the lack of prospects for upward mobility as the main reason for exiting a job.

It is time for employers to start thinking about other forms of fulfillment in the workplace – enter: data skills. A global study we commissioned found that data training may be a solution to overcoming the “Great Resignation”, with nearly 80% of employees more likely to stay at a company offering data skilling programs.

The proof is in the pudding: according to the global IDC Salesforce Economy 2021 study, jobs requiring digital skills, especially data analytics and visualization, will grow from 27% in 2021 to 37% by 2026. Whilst there is a lot of uncertainty about the shape of the future jobs market, we can be quite certain that the future of work will be driven by jobs related to artificial intelligence, cognitive systems, big data, and analytics.

Understanding data isn’t a math skill – it is a life skill

We’re witnessing an exponential increase in data around the world. In fact, it correlates with a transformation in the way that organizations deal with data; from managing the volatile operational demands of national vaccine administration, supply chains rattled by political instability, and critically, to the rise in new skills required of the workforce.

However, there remains an urgent need to plug the data skills gap in India. Coursera’s Global Skills Report 2021 revealed how Indians – despite showing high proficiency in machine learning and mathematics – ranked low in data analysis and data visualization skills proficiency at 25% and 38% respectively.

It’s important for everyone to get comfortable using data and analytics – whether they’re a student, teacher, executive, or business user – to make everyday decisions, fast.

The writing is on the wall: All kinds of jobs – existing and new will involve working with data now and into the future.

Data is the modern currency of today

Employees with data skills can apply techniques to derive meaning from data and communicate their discoveries to grow sales performance, better allocate resources, make operational processes more efficient, and deepen relationships with customers. They can ask the right questions to take data beyond the “what” to the “why” and “what’s next.” And importantly, apply this knowledge with relevant business context.

It’s imperative that we learn to think critically, argue effectively with data, and recognize what data is relevant – the success of our workforce of the future depends on it.

It takes an ecosystem to upskill a nation

The whole thing is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. Upskilling a nation will require close partnerships with academics, policy makers, and business leaders – each bringing a unique role to the table. The government needs to lay the groundwork for individuals to access skilling programs, academics to provide guidance around future skills competencies, and for business leaders to guide skilling programs based on the evolving needs of their sectors.

The exposure to data should also be rooted from an early age – right from schools.

The correlation between a knowledge workforce and the health of an economy is clear. Education must keep up with technology-driven changes in skills. And the time to act is now.

(The author is Vice President & Country Manager, India, Tableau at Salesforce. Views expressed are personal.)

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