From education to employment

Bridging Data Skills Gap for Students Entering the Future Workforce

Kevin Hanegan, Chief Learning Officer at Qlik

@Worcester_Uni has successfully implemented the @Qlik Academic Program to help prepare students for the future of work, in which every employee will require data literacy skills to meet growing business demand.

Looking to continue its legacy of offering one of the best graduate employment rates among UK universities, the decision to introduce the program was made by Richard Wilkinson, a senior lecturer in Computing at the University of Worcester. This was in response to the explosive growth of big data and an increasing recognition of its value, creating a huge demand for employees that are capable of reading, understanding, questioning and analysing data.

This is a key challenge the government has outlined that needs to be addressed in its new National Data Strategy, citing that demand for data skills has more than tripled since 2013, and acknowledging the importance of improving access to data skills education at tertiary education facilities.

The Qlik Academic Program works to address this education gap by providing universities and researchers with free Qlik® software and resources to help educate and train the next generation of experts leading with data. Through hands-on experience with industry leading commercial software, the Qlik Academic Program has allowed University of Worcester students to go beyond theory, and develop workplace-ready skills through opportunities to analyse real-world information, discover patterns, make connections and bring the findings to life.

The program also provides students with the flexibility to learn and develop new skills without needing to be on campus. Despite the transition to distance learning this year, the University of Worcester students were able to record their presentations and submit them virtually, with the help of unique features presented via Qlik Sense®. The application’s data storytelling functionality provides users with a way to turn data insights into a compelling and easy-to-consume story.

The evaluation involved students finding a data set relevant to their chosen degree pathway and analysing it in a Qlik Sense application to present their discoveries. Chosen topics varied from analysis on how Birmingham City Football Club can maximise ticket revenue, to how companies such as BP and Starbucks can use company data to drive business decisions.

The implementation of this program is helping the University of Worcester directly address the significant data literacy skills shortage in the UK workforce. Research conducted by Qlik and Accenture previously revealed that the data literacy skills gaps is impacting organisations’ ability to thrive in the data-driven economy. Currently, only 17 percent of UK employees are data literate and the same number believe they’re fully prepared to use data effectively skills.

“As we look toward the future of work, it’s clear that every industry will become increasingly reliant on data for decision-making and as such, will prioritise candidates with the requisite data literacy skills when hiring,” said Richard Wilkinson, The University of Worcester’s Senior Lecturer in Computing. “The Qlik Academic Program has helped us to equip students with the skills and knowledge to increase their career marketability and meet this growing demand by providing hands-on experience with commercial software, which in turn will help them demonstrate to employers that they have skills that will make a true impact.”

“With the uncertainty facing the 2020/2021 academic year, we plan to increase integration of the Qlik Academic Program in our teaching, giving students access to resources that allow them to study when and where suits them best,” continued Wilkinson. “Because the one thing that is certain in the future is that the importance of data will only increase, so we’re confident that by offering the modules which embed data literacy and the Qlik platform, we’re setting students up with the skills to succeed in any career path they choose.”

“In today’s data-driven world, strong analytical and data literacy skills are fundamental requirements across a wide range of industries,” said Kevin Hanegan, Chief Learning Officer at Qlik.

“The University of Worcester is giving students the opportunity to stand out against their peers when entering today’s competitive workforce and ensuring they can add skills to their resume that will have employers sit up and take notice.”

“This year in particular, with the shift to remote working and an increased reliance on data in many industries to understand unprecedented trends, we’ve seen demand for digital skills such as data literacy skyrocket. Offering students the option to improve their data literacy will become increasingly important for tertiary providers as employer demand for skilled data workers will continue to grow,” said Hanegan.

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