Data analytics could create 21,000 Irish jobs - Forfas report

Wednesday 07 May 2014 15.45
Skills levels will need to be improved if Ireland is to benefit from the global growth in data analytics
Skills levels will need to be improved if Ireland is to benefit from the global growth in data analytics

Up to 21,000 data analytics jobs could be generated here between now and 2020, according to new research by Forfas and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). 

In order to build up the talent pool in the intervening period, however, the authors say a range of actions need to be taken.

Data analytics is the science of making sense of and examining large volumes of raw data with a view to drawing conclusions and extracting value from it.

Jobs in the sector usually involve proficiency in areas like maths, statistics and management science, as well as other IT skills.

Due to rapid growth in the area, there is currently a shortage of professionals with the required skills to fill direct high end positions in the field of data analysis around the world. 

In particular, the research says there is a shortage of people with in-demand "deep analytical" skills.

But although data analysis is a booming growth area, no one country has taken the lead in the area. 

The authors of the Assessing The Demand For Big Data And Analytics Skills Report say this presents a significant opportunity for Ireland.

The report found that up to 21,000 potential job vacancies for skilled professionals could arise between now and 2020 under a high growth scenario. 

3,630 of the positions would be in deep analytical roles and 17,470 for big data type roles. 

The report says there is also potential for a further identified 8,780 job openings for supporting technology staff, under certain scenarios.

However, the experts found that in order for Ireland to become a world leader in the area, it must have sufficient skilled professionals available to fill roles in indigenous companies and foreign multinationals working in the sector. 

It also found that firms are currently experiencing constrained skills supply and are worried that prospective employees lack a sufficient level of work experience.

In the short-term, the authors recommend the best way to bridge the skills gap is through up-skilling and retraining. 

The report recommends that in order to build up the pipeline of talent into the future, the education system should focus on enhancing numeracy and quantitative skills at all levels. 

It also suggests as wide a variety of courses and disciplines as possible should involve teaching basic concepts in data management and analysis.

Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of Forfas said while many elements of the necessary support of the data analytics industry are already in place, other changes are necessary. 

These include greater access to open data, a boost in domestic talent supply, and ensuring international competitiveness. 

According to the chairperson of the EGFSN, Una Halligan, particular focus needs to be placed on improving senior executives' understanding of the potential value of data analytics for enhancing business performance. 

She also suggested that the value of analytics can be maximised by firms who manage their analytical staff correctly, by nurturing their talent providing interesting and challenging work and deploying them effectively.