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Data Science…for us all?

One of my kids is wrestling a bit with mastering the data science required in her graduate school program. There’s clearly a learning curve to “getting” it down–and she is clearly not alone.

That’s why I’m sharing Jeff Selingo’s post from his Next blog. He stresses that “data science is the table-stakes skill for many jobs.

The need for employees with data science skills has proliferated—and well beyond the tech industry, I found in research for a new paper, “Building Data Talent for the Decade Ahead.” Retailers, airlines, government agencies, entertainment companies, and sports teams, among many other sectors of the economy, need employees who can analyze data as part of their job.

Not only were there 50,000-plus job postings for data scientists in the U.S. alone last year, but there were also an additional 1.2 million jobs across 81 occupations requiring skills in data analytics.

Sure, it's great that the University of California at Berkeley created the College of Computing, Data Science, and Society—it’s the first new college at the university in more than 50 years. But what is really needed is the democratization of data analytics education across the curriculum if we hope to instill such skills in those majoring in English or biology or history.

In a seminal report released in 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said a key goal of a college education should be “to give all students the ability to make good judgments, use tools responsibly and effectively, and ultimately make good decisions using data.”

Students are already voting with their feet. The reason Berkeley created its new college is because of demand: 13% of its undergraduates took an intro to data science course last year.”

The fast-moving job market for analytics and the demand among an increasingly diverse set of learners and employers for data skills has higher education and individual learners alike feeling overwhelmed and struggling to keep up.

Data science is the new foreign language it may be most hepful to learn.


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