Data Skills Gap – We Have The Solution

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Recent news reporting has highlighted Europe needs 346,000 more data scientists by 2020. There is an apparent skills gap in the UK, data analysts are in high demand but there are not enough qualified people to the jobs.

The European Commission 2015 report explored the problem in more depth. At that time, 77% of such jobs remained unfilled and predicted the problem would get worse with 160% increase in demand between 2013 and 2020.

The trigger for this gap is clear – demand has outstripped supply. The phenomenal growth in data sources and organisations hunger to understand and utilise this data is vast. One study by the International Data Corporation predicts the 'digital universe' will reach 40 zettabytes - that's around 45 trillion gigabytes - by 2020, a 50-fold growth in a decade,

It’s not the amount of data that makes it a really big deal, it’s the ability to actually do something with it that demands the skills. Most organisations can handle the computational power but the data analytics professionals required to sift through the “immensity of stuff” to uncover the relationships meaningful to the business and their customers is the challenge.

According to a 2015 MIT Sloan Management Review, 40% of the companies surveyed were struggling to find and retain the data analytics talent. And the picture is starting to look even bleaker.

What can be done?

The move to looking for external agency support is growing and we have experienced this over recent times. Clients who previously handled data requirements internally are looking for external support. Employing data experts ensures you get the skills you require but also as and when you need them.

Taking an impartial view, we offer the following advice to organisations when looking for that perfect data partner:

1. Culture

Select an agency that fits into your organisational culture. Take the time to meet them, chat about their priorities, approach and standards, and see how they sync with yours.

2. Testimonials

Websites, client lists and case studies will showcase an agency’s credentials. We always recommend asking for client testimonials – they should be readily

3. Try before you buy

Selecting an agency through a tender process is common practice but do remember this is for the long term – contracts usually unite both sides for 2-3 years. One option we embrace, is to test the agency on a small scale (with a starter project) and then grow the contract if it's to your satisfaction.

4. Analyse costs

Provide your selected agency with a clear brief and request they make the first move with a quote. When the quote reaches you, examine every line and challenge it – this isn’t pedantic, it proves you want transparency when it comes to budgets and a clear idea on deliverables. Depending on the project, they’ll be a fix fee element and out of scope elements. Ensure you review and agree the ongoing charging criteria.


Without doubt the need for data analytical professionals is on the increase and, the skill gap is widening, which means getting the internal resource is a challenge for data savvy organisations. External support is available and can offer that additional resource required. However, make sure you take the time to find the ARe to work with you – finding the perfect partnership will deliver the long term success businesses strive for.

  • Are you struggling to recruit data specialists?
  • What benefits would external support bring to your business?
  • Would working with a data agency be right for you? Speak to our data experts