Society’s demand for ‘big data’ creating shortage of skilled workers
By Guest Columnist JENNIFER PRIESTLEY, professor of applied statistics and data science,…
(Jul 1, 2014) — By Guest Columnist JENNIFER PRIESTLEY, professor of applied statistics and data science, and director of the Center for Statistics
and Analytical Services, at Kennesaw State University
Link To Articlehttp://saportareport.com/blog/2014/06/societys-demand-for-big-data-creating-shortage-of-skilled-workers/
Big Data has created a big employment problem for metro Atlanta – there are simply
too many jobs in data science and not enough people. And the gap between supply and
demand is getting bigger. Universities in metro Atlanta are filling that void, helping
both employers and those who want to obtain those jobs.
A day does not go by that we don’t hear of, or read a news story related to, the topic
of data. It seems that everyone is collecting data – everything from our Facebook
posts to our energy consumption to the books we read. The data we generate, which
someone else collects, has become a pervasive characteristic of our society.
This data tsunami is creating previously unforeseen opportunities for organizations,
big and small, to improve the way they do business.
According to the global consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, the United States is
facing a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with the deep analytical skills necessary
to translate all of this newly acquired data into meaningful information. And, where
there is great demand combined with insufficient supply, there is an increase in price.
A salary study recently completed by executive recruiter Linda Burtch found that data
scientists now command higher salaries than doctors or lawyers. Early career data
scientists’ median starting salary was $140,000, with more senior data scientists
earning a median salary of more than $230,000. By contrast, the average annual income
for a lawyer in the United States was $131,990 in 2013, while doctors earned on average
The analytical talent is hard to find. So, what options are available for organizations
looking to hire these people?
Most organizations have two options – buy the talent on the open market or grow the
talent. Buying (or renting) analytical talent from the open market is expensive. And
none but the largest organizations have a sufficient training infrastructure to grow
the talent in-house. But there is another way to grow the talent – and organizations
in Atlanta have a particularly fertile environment to work with.
Companies are increasingly turning to university partnerships as the “farm system”
for fresh analytical talent. After all, education and training are the core competencies
of universities. And there are a few uniquely strong universities in Atlanta that
are rising to meet the local talent gap.
Kennesaw State University’s Master of Science in Applied Statistics program emphasizes
mathematics, statistics and computer programming, with a strong writing and communications
Private sector partnerships are a cornerstone of Kennesaw State’s graduate program
in applied statistics. The curriculum is always pivoting to meet the needs of the
marketplace, and what’s taught in the classroom is a reflection of the changing nature
of data analytics in the private sector. Universities must look to the private sector
to inform what is taught in the classroom.
Georgia Tech has launched a Master of Science in Analytics, again with a strong connection
with the local business community. Other emerging programs in analytics are offered
by Emory University and the University of Georgia.
“Analytics spans the fields of statistics, operations research, computing, and business,”
said Joel Sokol, director of Georgia Tech’s graduate program. “The Georgia Tech Master
of Science in Analytics degree is one of the few truly interdisciplinary analytics
degrees that include all of those areas. As a result, our graduates will be uniquely
able to think across the disciplines as they generate deeper insights into analytics
Data is not going away – we’ll continue to tweet, stream movies and make credit card
purchases. In fact, it is becoming more prevalent and the skills necessary to translate
data into information are in huge demand. Atlanta is well positioned to weather the
tsunami with a rich university farm system to recruit from.
Priestley spent 11 years working in private industry for companies such as Visa International
and Mastercard International before joining the KSU faculty in 2004.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.