A recent report from The Tech Partnership and SAS UK, looked into the Big Data skills gap in the UK. Forecasting significant growth in the number of big data specialist jobs between now and 2020 (2013=21,400, 202=56,000).
But are we ready for it? Is simply increasing the number of people analysing data going to truly help the economy?
In Susan Etlinger's recent TED talk 'What do we do with all this big data', she makes a really good point about the need to focus our attention on improving critical thinking skills in order to make the most out of data:
"Okay, Susan, we get it, you can take data, you can make it mean anything." And this is true, it's absolutely true, but the challenge is that we have this opportunity to try to make meaning out of it ourselves, because frankly, data doesn't create meaning. We do. So as business people, as consumers, as patients, as citizens, we have a responsibility, I think, to spend more time focusing on our critical thinking skills. Why? Because at this point in our history, as we've heard many times over, we can process exabytes of data at lightning speed, and we have the potential to make bad decisions far more quickly, efficiently, and with far greater impact than we did in the past. Great, right? And so what we need to do instead is spend a little bit more time on things like the humanities and sociology, and the social sciences, rhetoric, philosophy, ethics, because they give us context that is so important for big data, and because they help us become better critical thinkers.