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Data literacy set to be the most in-demand skill by 2030

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Wed 23 Mar 2022

As AI transforms global workplaces, new research shows that data literacy will be the most in-demand skill by 2030.

According to research from Qlik, a little over one in five employees believe their employer is preparing them for a more data-oriented and automated workplace (21%). This is despite most business leaders predicting an upheaval in working practices due to the rapid onset of AI.

The report, Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution, found that 35% of employees say they had changed jobs in the last 12 months because their employer wasn't offering enough upskilling and training opportunities.
 
Developed by Qlik in partnership with The Future Labs, the report combines insights from expert interviews with surveys from over 1,200 global C-level executives and 6,000 employees. The findings, broadly consistent across all geographies surveyed, show how the rapid growth in data usage extends enterprise aspirations for its potential and, in turn, transforms working practices. 

Data literacy: The most in-demand skill in the future workplace

According to the study, business leaders and employees alike predict that data literacy, defined as the ability to read, work with, analyse and communicate with data, will be the most in-demand skill by 2030. With 85% of executives saying it will become as vital in the future as the ability to use a computer is today.

Global employees report their use of data, and its importance in decision-making has doubled over the past year. While 89% of executives now expect all team members to be able to explain how data has informed their decisions.

Underpinning more intelligent and automated working practices

This demand for data skills reflects a significant shift in the workplace due to the rise of AI. The enterprise leaders surveyed believe employee working practices will change to become more collaborative, with intelligent tools helping them make better decisions (84%) and become more productive (83%).

As a result, 40% of C-level respondents predict their organisation will hire a chief automation officer within the next three years, rising to above 99% within the next decade. But Qlik says the investment cannot end at senior hires; those on the front line need support during this transition. And 58% of employees surveyed believe that data literacy will help them stay relevant in their role with the growing use of AI.

"We often hear people talk about how employees need to understand how artificial intelligence will change how they complete their role, but more importantly, we need to be helping them develop the skills that enable them to add value to the output of these intelligent algorithms," Qlik vice president Innovation & Design, Elif Tutuk.

"Data literacy will be critical in extending workplace collaboration beyond human-to-human engagements, to employees augmenting machine intelligence with creativity and critical thinking."

The value of data literacy on the talent market

Qlik says the move toward a more data-oriented and automated workplace creates a massive opportunity for those with data literacy skills. The company says all business leaders surveyed reported that they would offer a salary increase for candidates that could demonstrate their data literacy. 
 
Although it is perceived as critical to the enterprise's success both today and in the future, only 11% of employees surveyed feel fully confident in their data literacy skills, even though the most common belief among enterprise leaders is that it is an individual's responsibility to prepare themselves with the skills for the future workplace.

"Where organisations are increasing their data literacy training, our research shows that it is primarily offered to those working in specific data-related roles, such as data analysts and data scientists," says Qlik global head of Data Literacy, Dr Paul Barth.

"Just one-in-10 offer this training to those in HR, finance and marketing, despite more than two-thirds of employees working in these functions stating data literacy is already necessary to fulfil their current role."

He says over three-quarters (78%) of employees are instead investing their own time and money (64%) to plug the professional skills gap needed for the future enterprise. These employees spend an average of nearly seven hours each month and nearly USD$2,800 each year. He says 35% of employees report having left a job in the past 12 months due to their employer not offering enough upskilling and training opportunities.

"Over the past few years, investments in digitising most business processes have transformed the data resources available. This will continue as we move toward a more intelligent and automated workplace," says Barth. 

"But investment in leading-edge data platforms has revealed a large and expanding gap in data literacy skills in the workforce. To become a data-driven company, where employees regularly use data and analytics to make better decisions and take informed actions, business leaders need to invest in upskilling workers in every role to close the data literacy gap."

 

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