The big data skills cliff: How can we avoid going over the edge?

New research suggests that by 2017 there will be a 243 per cent increase in the field of big data analysis, a massive boom that could deliver more than £200 billion to the UK economy.

That's the good news - the bad news is that 57 per cent of businesses are finding it an uphill struggle to hire enough qualified people.

With the starting salary for students a full 25 per cent higher than the UK average, there are thousands of jobs available but nobody with right skills to fill the roles.

In the video above, former defence minster Dr Liam Fox, big data university lecturers and students talk about the importance of having qualifications in analysing big data as it prepares to go from strength to strength in the near future.

These skills are needed by all sorts of businesses, and not just digital and marketing companies.

At the inaugural SAS Careers Fair at Brunel University, 10 businesses alone had more than 100 vacancies for data analysts, with starting salaries for graduates up to 25 per cent more than the current average. The Fair also attracted over 250 students from 15 different universities.

Speaking at the SAS Careers Fair, Dr Liam Fox MP said: "It's quite clear that this incredible resource that is big data is such that if we can unlock its potential to lead to efficiency and, more importantly, innovation in business, then clearly that is going to create wealth."

"Data handling skills are important for all of us, and increasingly so," Fox went on. "When I think back to when I was at university, there were none of these analytical tools that are available today."

In the video, various leaders in the field try to answer the questions: how can we fill the big data skills gap, and why does it matter to the UK?