“There is no doubt that data science is one of the most challenging areas to recruit and retain teams,” says Richard James, senior data recruiter at tech recruitment and outsourcing consultancy Harvey Nash. It’s the consequence of an almost perfect storm of problems impacting recruiters, where demand is outstripping supply and the supply line is littered with inconsistencies and inadequacies in fundamental skills development.
This is having a significant impact on business. According to James, Harvey Nash’s recent Digital leadership report found that two-thirds of digital leaders in the UK are unable to keep pace with change because of a dearth of the talent they need. While cyber security tops the charts for the most in-demand skills, big data and analytics come in a close second.
With data increasingly touching every aspect of business, this is understandably a worry. If data is supposed to offer competitive advantage, how can UK businesses compete, especially in a recruitment market that has been hit by the double whammy of Covid-19 and Brexit?
The UK government published a policy paper in May 2021, entitled Quantifying the UK data skills gap, to try to assess the scale of the problem and the main causes. It found that nearly half of businesses interviewed were currently recruiting for data roles, but a similar number – just under 46% – had struggled to fill data roles over the past two years.
It’s a problem that is not really being addressed and while government interest is welcome, you feel the horse bolted quite a while ago on this one.