Data Analytics: a programme to suit industry needs.By Kerem Akartunali - Posted on 31 March 2017
Research shows the data sector is a growing industry. Strathclyde Business School has launched a new programme in line with industry needs and programme director Kerem Akurtanali looks at the programme and the surrounding data sector.
A recent report has shown that data education could help close the skills gap currently being experienced by the industry.
The report shows:
- By 2020, the data workforce is expected to grow by around 346,000 professionals
- There will be approximately 56,000 opportunities in 2020 for big data professionals.
- Recruiters report that 77% of big data positions are either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ difficult to fill
For the industry to grow and prosper, it needs the right people with the right skills to fill these positions.
We’re delighted to say we’re introducing a new programme to suit these needs - the MSc in Data Analytics. Our programme was put together in consultation with industry with the aim of providing what students need for the workplace. We didn’t want to rush this programme into the marketplace - there are a lot of Data courses out there but they are mostly highly computer science-based and very technical.
What we got from our discussions with industry partners was they were keen to find employees, not just with skills in statistics and computers, but graduates with broad business skills too who are able to see the big business picture.
So we put together a Data programme based in the business school, but with input from the departments of Statistics and Computer Information Sciences (CIS). The resulting programme will produce graduates able to see the whole business environment and who will fit easily into this category of data-focused jobs.
Industry engagement is a key factor too in ensuring our graduates are ready for the workplace. In the Management Science department, we have a successful and valued placement programme for our MSc Business Analysis and Consulting programme where students go through a selection process to find a three week intensive placement with the organisations on offer. Students have found this a very worthwhile part of the programme and in many cases it has led to full-time employment.
Our new MSc in Data Analytics also has a strong industry engagement element built in. Six mini-projects will take place across the year-long programme where clients will come in and present a problem to the students. Our students will investigate and pitch their solutions back to the company the following week, allowing them to work on ‘messy’ real-world problems they will face after graduation. We’re delighted we already have companies signed up for this process and are looking forward to working with them in this way.
There are companies obviously using data like Google and Uber but increasingly a variety of companies are utilising data in a growing number of sectors – the financial sector is an obvious one, but data is being used in innovative ways in agriculture, retail, medicine and tourism.
The Data Lab, established with an £11.3 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council, is an organisation with the core mission to generate significant economic, social and scientific value from data and it aims to transform the way in which industry, public sector and academic institutions collaborate.
Last year it launched scholarships for Data programmes across seven universities in Scotland, including Strathclyde. This year there are 15 scholarships on offer across our MSc Business Analysis & Consulting and MSc Data Analytics programmes.
We need data literate people within organisations to drive forward innovation – according to a report by NESTA, 50% of data-active companies are more likely to launch new products or services but 2/3 of business struggle to fill a ‘data’ vacancy. We hope our new MSc in Data Analytics goes some way to plugging this gap.