From education to employment

Why graduates as junior professionals are the key to solving the data skills crisis

Rich Lewis Jones, CEO of Sigma Labs

The data industry is built on technology and together they are increasingly finding themselves framed as the backbone of modern society, propelling decision making, industry and innovation across various sectors and reshaping the way we live and work.

However, this remarkable growth has given rise to a significant issue that threatens its continued prosperity: a shortage of skilled data professionals.

This pervasive skills gap is thought to be costing the UK economy as much as £12.8 billion a year, yet there are many talent pools that organisations can tap into in order to bridge this gap.

Recent graduates, equipped with up-to-date knowledge on both data and the relevant technical skills, should receive more recognition as an effective group of junior professionals who can tackle the skills crisis.

The Graduate Edge

As emerging data technology such as artificial intelligence influences the job market, equipping the future workforce with the most up-to-date training is crucial. Transforming a graduate into a talented junior data consultant can present refreshed perspectives and qualities such as adaptability, an eagerness to learn, and ambition, making them exceptionally well-suited to tackle complex and emerging challenges. By harnessing the enthusiasm and creativity of graduates, companies can foster innovation and stay competitive in the digital age.

These junior professionals present the next generation of data and tech leaders and in the meantime, can help organisations adapt to the evolving landscape, being both immediately productive but also serving as mentors and educators through knowledge and idea sharing.

Industry Collaboration in supporting Grads

The data skills crisis is not confined to one company or sector – it’s a collective challenge that requires collaboration across industries. Educational institutions, government initiatives, and organisations must invest in programmes that help recent graduates transition into the data and technology workforce seamlessly.

This comes as recent studies highlight the continued struggle for graduates post-degree, with almost a quarter (23 per cent) not working in a field related to their studies as relevant opportunities were difficult to come by, and 21 per cent unable to secure a job in a relevant field as they did not have the appropriate work experience.

On the one hand, increasing grad schemes might provide opportunities in certain disciplines. However, these typically don’t teach the relevant data or technical skills that a junior data professional would require to thrive in the evolving world of work. Of course the large companies that run grad schemes are also not experts in education, so rightly end up looking at higher cost contractors or consulting options. However, this exacerbates the problem for themselves and graduates…and the cycle continues.

However, exceptional graduates trained as high-performance junior data professionals provide an enormous pool of immediately productive, high value add resource. Sigma Labs, for example, catalyses high data performance careers via exceptional education, providing clients with long term junior talent solutions.

Within a hire-train-deploy model, the solution provides three main benefits: augmenting immediate delivery teams, reducing the cost of expensive third parties while allowing IP retention, and finally providing other tech organisations with a long-term leadership pipeline. The key to immediate productivity is training in data engineering; the key to long term leadership is training in high performance professional behaviours.

Some recently qualified Sigma Lab consultants highlighted the value of this training, and of being part of a strong professional data community: “Sigma Labs is a really nice place to work and they genuinely care about you. They have boosted my confidence on a personal level and allowed me to work with others more effectively.”

“Without Sigma Labs I don’t believe I would be in the same position that I am in today. Sigma Labs has impacted me massively in a positive way and I feel more confident than before.”

Closing Thoughts

The data skills crisis remains a pressing issue that demands continuous attention and action. Graduates as junior professionals represent a valuable talent pool that can help solve this crisis on multiple fronts. Bringing their ambitions, perspectives and fresh knowledge can help bridge the skills gap and encourage collaboration across the tech ecosystem.

To unlock their full potential, organisations must invest in programmes and initiatives that support junior professionals as they embark on their tech careers. By doing so, they are not only addressing the skills gap, but also ensuring that the tech industry continues to drive innovation and prosperity in the rapidly evolving digital world.

Written by Rich Lewis Jones, CEO of Sigma Labs, partnered with The IN Group

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