Did your education equip you with everything you need to do your job? If you studied a technical subject, like maths or computer science, you probably ace the hands-on aspects. But what about the softer skills, like presenting to the board or managing a team of analysts? If you studied a broader subject, like business studies or marketing, you will have those abilities but may struggle to understand data and analytics. So how much would you be willing to spend in order to skill up?
It is a question that employers are increasingly asking in the face of the skills shortage across the data industry. Finding a candidate for an in-demand role like data scientist can easily cost the HR department upwards of £15,000. If the alternative is to pay £7,000 in order to send an existing data analyst to be trained in the disciplines that role requires, from new advanced analytical tools like R through to coding and machine learning, then that looks like a bargain.
For roles that have a high level of business-critical dependency, the level of investment could be much higher. Chief information security officers stand between sensitive information and hackers or malicious insiders, placing the CISO right at the heart of protecting data as a valuable asset. Ensuring that person has properly-certificated skills is worth investing in. So how about putting down £185,000 to send your CISO on a first-class training programme?
That recently-launched proposition is deliberately setting the bar high in becoming the world's most expensive course. Within the field of information security, that sum might not seem quite so eye-watering given the risks involved. But could a business intelligence director of chief analytics officer demand a similar level of career development support?
At the moment, the training budgets available within the data industry are more constrained, even though there is a growing recognition that the best way to build the data and anaytics team is by improving staff already in place, not just by hiring in new talent. Leaders need to ensure they have the right business-oriented skills and understanding of the wider industry context, just as the teams they lead need to keep their technical knowledge up-to-date.
Options tend to divide between focused training in specific activities, often delivered by vendors of technology, and making the personal commitment to take a MBA. To fill this gap, a growing number of companies are creating their own academies which offer a spectrum of training and knowledge sharing. The difficulty is ensuring that the syllabus is broad enough and not overly-focused on just what suits the company.
Candidates are increasingly viewing career development and training as deal-breakers when looking for new jobs. Companies that offer investment and support will therefore be better placed to attract the talent they need. But that will require a change of mindset to stop viewing data and analytics practitioners as arriving with all the skills they need already in place. There is always something new to learn.