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Gold in the Data, but a Shortage of Miners

Actual gold miners at work.

Education experts anticipate a continuing, and growing, shortage of data analysts capable of mining insights from big data.

Credit: Reuters

As the government and private industry increasingly strive to mine huge quantities of data for valuable information, a shortage of big data experts is likely to persist.

"I don't see the gap narrowing. Universities aren't producing enough. We have 80 grads per year," says North Carolina State University director of advanced analytics Michael Rappa. "We could be producing 800 per year and still not meet demand. With each class, the demand goes up."

Although the term "data analyst" can apply to workers ranging from scientists to data entry personnel, the masters of science in analytics degree integrates math, analytics, business, and science to enable students to optimize information use. While over two dozen universities have launched data science programs in the past three years, demand is significantly outpacing supply. Only approximately 300 data specialists graduate each year from U.S. universities, says Northwestern University program director in analytics Diego Klabjan.

A McKinsey Global Institute study predicts a shortfall of between 140,000 and 190,000 data analytics experts in the United States by 2018. Federal agencies are likely to have difficulty competing with private industry to hire data specialists, due to a lack of flexibility in pay and benefits and the time required to hire new workers.

From Federal Computer Week
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