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SAS report: investment critical to evade big data skills chasm

If you're a data analyst, nay, data scientist, then you're on to a winner it would seem. UK demand for big data skills has rocketed due to the increasing engagement provided to humans via mobile devices, apps and the Web, which businesses can of course use to make money and streamline operations and services. And with the Internet of Things just beginning to take hold, there's basically going to be tons of data floating about.

A new report from SAS anticipates that by 2020 the UK will have created cumulatively 346,000 big data positions since 2013, and that there will be approximately 56,000 job opportunities a year in 2020 for big data professionals. This equates to 160 per cent growth in demand between 2013 and 2020.

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The average pay packet for big data professionals has reached £55,000 – 24 per cent more than the average IT position. Recruitment specialists have flagged senior big data analytics roles as harder to fill than those in business intelligence, purchasing, engineering, sales, finance, management, IT/communications, marketing/PR and health/medical. That's pretty much every other graduate job, right?

To combat the impending skills gap, SAS has come up with SAS Curriculum Pathways - a set of education resources available to teachers and students, for free. The initiative aims to lead big data professionals on a full data science career path.

"Big data is the 'new oil' that will power the information economy," said Mark Wilkinson, managing director, SAS UK & Ireland.

The SAS Data Science Curriculum, which will be available online, should help business extract this new oil by stimulating the minds of young would-be big data buffs.

Not only is the big data job market underpopulated, it's also rather London-centric: between 2012 and 2013, 63 per cent of positions were based within the capital, with 12 per cent in the South East, five per cent in the North West, and four per cent in Yorkshire and the South West respectively.

The survey, entitled "Big Data Analytics: Demand for Labour and Skills, 2013-2020" drew on two data sources: analysis of a dataset of big data vacancies from ITJobsWatch, and a dedicated web survey of UK staffing companies.