Demand for data skills is rising, but education investment remains stalled.
The recent pledge to create 10 million data learners by Tableau is a rallying call to ensure that businesses and society seize the opportunity and invest in creating the data skills the economy and society will need as digitisation continues.
A Forrester study, Building Data Literacy: The Key To Better Decisions, Greater Productivity And Data-Driven Organisations, found that demand for data skills is increasing globally and that training and investment in skills development is lagging. And our 2022 Global Digital Skills Index also found that 73% of global employees are not prepared enough to be effective in a digital economy. These are worrying findings; success in the digital economy requires that organisations - no matter the vertical market - operate with what we call a data-first mindset. This approach is focused on the use of insight.
A data-first mindset replaces intuition and, in the near future, will enable organisations to deploy and benefit from data technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Organisations develop insight when data allows conclusions to be developed in collaboration across the organisation, therefore preventing the build-up of silos.
The Forrester Research report finds that data is the new language of business. However, this and other studies find that swathes of the workforce are data illiterate. This poses a significant risk to organisations, yet investment in education and training shows no or little sign of increasing. Few organisations are looking at the role training can play in closing the data language gap. A third of organisations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) make data training available to their staff. Data skills need to be incorporated into the education system, with school, further education, and academic students coached in the use and power of data. The next generation will be data natives, just as they are digital natives. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, society as a whole has become data aware, as daily public information briefings informed us all of the R numbers. Therefore, now is the opportunity to take data exposure and turn it into the core skills of a data-literate society.
Recognising the challenge, Tableau announced the initiative to train 10 million people in data skills in November 2021. Snowflake, Pathstream, and Coursera have joined forces with Tableau to deliver this training. Already green shoots are being seen; over a quarter of a million people have already engaged and upskilled through Tableau data programs, and there is a range of ways that individuals and organisations can increase their data literacy.
The Build Your Data Literacy online course, delivered on our Trailhead platform, is free and the most popular course - 32,000 people have completed it. Also freely available is Data Literacy for All, which provides foundational skills in major European and Asian languages. Or Coursera provides a Grow with Google cert.
Although Forrester Research identifies worrying concerns, the report found that those organisations in EMEA that had invested in data training for their employees were reporting “clear, sometimes transformative benefits for employees, the enterprise, customers, and other stakeholders.”
Data skills are the investment that will prevent your organisation and our wider society from missing the wealth of opportunities that a skilled data workforce offers. The term ‘we are all in it together’ has been tarnished in some nations; however, when it comes to data skills, Tableau is committed to investing in the future, and we hope you will join us. Those that do will prosper.