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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog

02/17
2012

How to Battle the Looming Shortage of Data Scientists

coats 150x150 How to Battle the Looming Shortage of Data ScientistsConsider it a supply and demand challenge.

Analytics is front of mind for key decision makers. In fact, it was cited by Gartner as the top IT priority for CIOs and CFOs this year. But all this energy and excitement around analytics may come at a steep cost.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, the US could be facing a shortage of 190,000 people with analytical skills by 2018. McKinsey isn’t the only organization that’s spotted a potential shortfall of data scientists. In a separate study of 500 data scientists and BI professionals, EMC discovered that 65% of the respondents expect demand for data scientists to outstrip availability over the next five years. Moreover, 83% of respondents believe that new tools and emerging technologies will exacerbate the demand for data scientists.

The EMC study provides a deep dive into the challenge at hand while offering key considerations for CIOs, hiring managers, and prospective data scientists. For instance, the EMC study reveals that data scientists are three times as likely as BI professionals to have master’s or doctoral degrees. As such, employers that haven’t already tapped into the international pipeline of foreign-born students that are earning STEM graduate degrees may want to consider the following numbers.

According to a recent report conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, foreign-born people represent 16.5% of the US population who are 25 or older. However, 33% of all graduates with engineering degrees are foreign born, as are the 27% of graduates in computers, math, and statistics, according to U.S. News & World Report. According to the Census report, 57% of these students hail from Asia, with the majority of those Asian students coming from China or India.

However, reported abuses of the H-1B visa system may lead to increased restrictions on hiring foreign-born workers. To engage and incent younger American-born students to pursue degrees in engineering and analytics, employers and industry associations can do more to promote the wide range of exciting opportunities that’s available. This includes educating high school and college-age students on the solid earning potential for this discipline. For instance, an AOL Jobs article on the topic cites a salary range of $60,000 to $115,000 for data mining scientists from Glassdoor.com.

Meanwhile, industry associations such as the Society for Information Management (SIM) are helping to develop computer camps to interest and educate teenagers about career choices in IT, including an effort between SIM and the Memphis Public Library in Tennessee.

If prospective employers and other organizations want to successfully address the anticipated shortage of data scientists in coming years, they’ll need to think long term.

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