Ireland has potential to become Big Data leader – Ireland has the potential to become a leading country in Europe in data analytics services and creating highly skilled jobs in the process according to a new report from Forfás and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.
The report entitled, “Assessing The Demand For Big Data And Analytics Skills”, estimates that there is the potential to create between 12,000 and 21,000 job vacancies by 2020 arising through expansion and replacement demand.
Measures are identified in the report to build up the Big Data and analytics talent pool up to 2020, in line with enterprise demand. There are also proposals for actions to address gaps identified between supply and demand, and assist in harnessing the economic and social potential of this area into the medium term.
The report acknowledges that this is an emerging area of business activity, but one which is characterised by rapid growth. Globally, there is a reported shortage of data analytics talent, says the report, particularly individuals with the required ‘deep analytical’ skills. At present, no one country or region stands out in the provision of data analytics services, the report argues, and there is a significant opportunity for Ireland to gain ground here. It highlights that for Ireland to become a leading country in data analytics services, it is essential that the skills base is sufficient to drive performance within existing enterprises, start-ups and new foreign direct investment.
“If we want Ireland to become a leading country for data analytics, we need to ensure we have a supply of suitably qualified analytics talent who will choose careers in this area,” said Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills, TD. “This will require that both businesses and schools raise awareness and communicate these career options to young people, their parents and those looking to reskill.”
“A key trend observed internationally is the interdisciplinary approach to Big Data and analytics education. Higher education institutions are looking at ways of using and re-orienting their existing resources across disciplines including computing, business, statistics, marketing and engineering. The collaboration of higher education with industry in the design and development of new data analytic programmes is another key trend and I am pleased that there are innovative examples here within our universities,” said the minister.
The report considers skills demand across three main skills categories. Those in deep analytical roles have the statistical and analytical ability to analyse both structured and unstructured data. The need for firms to be able to identify and process the right data, says the report, requires data savvy persons with the conceptual knowledge and communication skills to frame the right questions to be answered and to challenge the results — all with a view to making better business decisions. Those in supporting technology roles develop, implement and maintain the hardware and software tools and manage the databases. Good communication, teamwork and problem solving are key skills requirements for all in these roles.
The 21,000 potential job vacancies for skilled professionals could arise under what the report refers to as the high growth scenario, from both expansion and replacement demand in the period up to 2020, comprising 3,630 for deep analytical roles and 17,470 for big data savvy roles.
There is also potential for a further identified 8,780 job openings for supporting technology staff, however it is important to note that this job figure has already been included within the demand forecast numbers for ICT professionals in the Forfás/EGFSN report on Addressing Future Demand for High-Level ICT Skills and are the subject of initiatives to address such demand in the Government’s ICT Action Plan launched in March 2014.
“Big data is one of the Disruptive Reforms in our Action Plan for Jobs,” said Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD, “and we have put in place a series of measures to support jobs growth in this fast-growing area. This includes the establishment of a technology centre to bring together industry and researchers to work on shared problems. However a key element of this is ensuring that we can provide companies with access to the skilled workers they need to support their growth. Today’s report delivers on part of that plan – with proper action from Government I am convinced that we can deliver the skilled workers needed and support the rapid jobs growth that is possible in this area”.
“This joint Forfás and EGFSN report highlights the need to boost the output and quality of our analytical talent to take advantage of potential job openings and business opportunities,” said Martin Shanahan, chief executive, Forfás. “The report highlights the supporting conditions necessary if Ireland is to position itself as a leading data analytic country in Europe. These conditions include greater access to open data, a boost in domestic talent supply, and ensuring international competitiveness. Many of the elements to support the development of data analytics and Big Data are already in place in Ireland including the existing base of enterprises in this space and a growing base of relevant publically funded research activity, including the insight centre for data analytics (INSIGHT) and the Centre for Applied Data Analytics research, CeADAR.”