Data Skills Gap in the UK – Is It Causing Your Problems?

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Posted on:

September 30th, 2022

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Insights & Thought Leadership

Is the UK Data Skills Gap Causing Your Problems?

The extent of the Data Skills Gap within the UK is apparent and widely recognised across all industries. With difficulties in accessing the right data skills businesses UK wide are feeling the effects. Do you understand the impact it is having on your business?  The challenge has been recognised by the government who have commissioned a report on  Quantifying the Data Skills Gap, which is well worth a read, but we’ve summarised some of the key points below.  


The Value of Data to the UK  

The estimated size of the UK data economy varies dependant on its definition. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) estimated that in 2016 it was worth between £61 billion and £73 billion in 2016. While other research associations believe it could be considerably more at around the £125 billion mark. And it has only grown since that time.  The estimated size of the UK data economy varies dependant on its definition. This is under threat as, 48% of businesses are struggling to recruit for roles requiring data skills and 25% of companies state they have insufficient data skills within their current workforce.  


Why is There a Data Skills Gap? 

There are 178,000 to 234,000 data related roles in UK companies which are currently unfilled, and the UK is presently unable to meet this demand. Financial costs and a lack of the right combination of skills were found as key reasons for the difficulty in hiring.  The UK’s future ability to meet the demand of qualified individuals, equipped with the right skillset is severely affected by the fact that many students do not feel that there is a clear pathway to becoming a data scientist, even after seeking guidance on the matter. Furthermore, it is estimated that the potential supply of data scientists from UK universities is likely to be no more than 10,000 per year, coming nowhere near filling the void moving forward. 


Consequences of the Data Skills Gap 

Combined these factors become barriers to UK businesses building efficient data capabilities. This in turn sets back performance, decision-making abilities, and economic growth.  As outlined by the Royal Society and DCMS commissioned studies, demand for data skills is also rising quickly, compounding these issues. Some of the rising demand will undoubtedly be driven by emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. AI is already making an impact on every industry sector and is only set to grow.  


How Can You Eliminate Your Deficit of Data Skills? 

You require outcomes, not personnel.   Along with concerns over cost, acquiring the mix of skills suited to the individual company is the most common reason for data roles remaining unfilled. Plugging into external data expertise such as Clekt is a cost-effective path to the outcomes you need. Access to a broad field of expert knowledge and experience, without being limited to that of one individual person offers a fast and effective route to your desired results. A way to side-step the data skills gap altogether.  It’s clear for most businesses cannot simply hire to fill their data skills gap, instead they need to leverage platforms which provide efficiencies and work with specialist external partners whilst still retaining ownership of their data and roadmap.   

If you’re impacted by the data skills gap, then  Get in touch to see how you can partner with Clekt. N.B. The report is the culmination of research carried out by Opinium and corroborates earlier studies commissioned by The Royal Society and DCMS.     


Data Skills Glossary

Data Skills 

Skills that involve the gathering, interpretation and communication of data, often as part of a team. 


Hard Data Skills 

Specific or specialised capabilities which can be demonstrated in a measured way. 

Examples of hard data skills: Data Processing, Data Literacy, Data Ethics, Data Modelling, Data Visualization.   


Soft Data Skills 

Personal traits which support situational awareness within a data setting. Enhancing a persona ability to carry out a task. 

Examples of soft data skills: Problem Solving, Communication, Curiosity and Adaptability.   


Data Literacy 

A specific skill set and knowledge base, which empowers individuals to transform data into information and actionable knowledge.

Effectively influencing critical decision making and driving business impact. By enabling them to access, interpret, critically assess, manage and ethically use data.