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e-skills UK report: 243% increase needed to fill big data skills gap

A report by think-tank e-skills UK has exposed the growing potential in the big data market, but also the growing skills gap as government and private enterprise vie to recruit the best talent.

One of the report's key findings was that 90 per cent of businesses saw direct benefit in the implementation of big data analytics into their current business model.

However, 45 per cent of businesses looking to upgrade their data analytics workforce foresaw problems in sourcing enough sufficiently skilled workers. A further 57 per cent of recruiters looking to fill big data positions reported that it's difficult to find people with the required skills and experience. That represents a significant gulf between the supply and demand of big data skills.

The report also forecasted a bright future for companies providing big data solutions. It predicted that 29 per cent of businesses with over 100 employees will have implemented a big data infrastructure by 2017, compared to current total of 14 per cent (with 6 per cent in the process of doing so).

To fill this gap, there will have to be a staggering 243 per cent increase in the number of big data technicians in the UK.

The e-skills report drew the analogy of the early days of flight.

"In the early 1900s, the Wright Brothers invented the airplane. It offered opportunities to travel... but there was a skill gap because there were no pilots."

The think-tank has recommended a partnership between government and academia, as well as programmes designed to raise awareness of data science careers in schools.

According to Professor Treleaven of UCL, who warned today of a "tsunami" of data descending on British small businesses, UK universities are currently "overwhelmed by businesses coming in and looking for talent" among data specialists.

CEO of e-skills Karen Price also argued that a greater emphasis on data science in British education could help usher a new generation of young people and especially a much-needed influx of women into the tech world.