Demand for big data professionals has seen a significant year-on-year rise with 51.7% more roles being advertised in Q1 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. Signficantly, permanent roles are up, but the demand for contractors has dropped by a nearly equal amount, indicating that big data programmes are now being embedded within organisations.
“It’s good news for us that the industry understands the challenges of big data and we are seeing this uplift in demand,” Martin Ewings, director of regional sales and specialist markets at professional IT resourcing company Experis, told DataIQ. The findings come from the regular Tech Cities Job Watch report which the firm carries out, looking at data from advertised positions across big data, cloud, IT security, mobile and web development.
A total of 3,293 permanent big data roles were advertised during the first three months of this year, up by 24.6% from the last three months of 2016. By contrast, demand for contractors fell by 22% from 906 to 707 in the same period. For every one conractor now being sought, companies are looking for four permanent staff.
Ewings identifies two trends driving this maturity in roles and recruitment. The first is a migration of analytics into lines of business. “The impact of big data in terms of gathering, storing and analysing big data is really driving this trend. It is no longer an IT challenge and is not based in that function - it is now being understood and adopted by sales and marketing, so analysts are being recruited to those roles,” he said. A similar trend is occurring within information security which is being applied across enterprises and not just within specialist infosec functions.
GDPR is the second main driver. “Organisations need to build an ethical culture and think about making better decisions with analytics,” said Ewings. Despite this, he believes many organisations “still have their head in the sand” about the requirements of the Regulation which will lead to a flurry of hiring between now and May 2018.
Increased demand for big data professionals has pushed average advertised salaries higher, with a 4% rise to £67,399 compared to Q1 in 2016. But, at the same time, day rates for contractors are down 1.3% year-on-year. Ewings argues that this is likely to be reversed once GDPR programmes kick in and demand for skilled contractors heats up.
Longer-term, talent acquisition is starting to change as formerly technical activities move into the business. “The future is looking more at the kind of person and mapping their skills onto a role, not just looking at how many years of big data experience they have. Employers are looking for the capabilities that roles require. With a future skills gap, the demand will be for people who are problem solvers, with analytical mindsets and the ability to extrapolate from data. If you can find them, you can teach them the technical skills,” explained Ewings.
His company is already supporting this type of change through the creation of academies for clients. One parallel is with a major automotive manufacturer which is retraining its engineers away from fuel-based technologies and into electric car engineering. In the big data world, similar shifts are taking place. Ewings predicted: “Big data three years ago was all about Oracle databases, now it is all about analytics. Technologies become obsolete - it is how you apply them that is the competitive differentiator.”