From solutions engineers and students to analysts and data scientists, SAS® users consistently speak about the value of upskilling and lifelong learning. They say upskilling is vital to success – particularly for those in analytics.
Why? Because when it comes to analytics, curiosity is king. Digging deeper and trying new things allow analysts to push the envelope and make outstanding contributions in their field.
Continuous learning isn’t just a good idea – it’s essential. Practically speaking, though, how can it affect your career long-term? Reflecting on their career journeys, SAS users shared important lessons learned in upskilling – and three reasons why you should prioritize it.
1. Helps employees stay relevant
In today’s business environment, organizations need to stay abreast of the latest tools and techniques to remain resilient. As big data booms and competition intensifies, data scientists and analysts must keep pace with the industry to maximize their impact.
“Data science is in the epicenter of the data revolution and is very fast moving, [so]be comfortable with regular upskilling to stay relevant in the market,” says Jean Murray De Villiers, head of analytics at SAS Institute in Ireland.
“Data science is in the epicenter of the data revolution and is very fast-moving, [so]be comfortable with regular upskilling to stay relevant in the market,” says Jean Murray De Villiers, Head of Analytics at SAS Ireland.
De Villiers speaks from experience. First deciding to pursue data science in 2013 while selling analytics software in South Africa, he began developing skills with SAS and got certified with Base SAS, Advanced Programmer and Statistical Business Analyst. He also earned a master’s degree in business analytics at the Centre for Business Mathematics and Informatics at North-West University in South Africa.
But he didn’t stop there. In the past decade, De Villiers has completed more than 20 SAS certifications – and looking back, he recognizes how valuable this learning has been. Having multiple SAS certifications, plus a robust theoretical knowledge and practical skills, has given him the tools needed to help SAS customers make data-driven decisions.
2. Creates present and future opportunities
According to Kriss Harris, another SAS user, continuous learning allows individuals to stay relevant amidst change and opens doors. Early in his career, while working as a statistician at GlaxoSmithKline, Harris found that upskilling with SAS could lead to promising new career opportunities.
“[I] wanted to move to clinical and become a SAS programmer instead of a statistician, but I needed to learn more Base SAS and potentially obtain the SAS Base Certification to get there,” he explains.
Earning the certification in Base SAS helped Harris land the job and allowed him to pursue new opportunities to explore his artistic side.
“I started teaching when I was at Glaxo," he says. "I taught biologists how to use the SAS Enterprise Guide and showed people how to do graphics in SAS. That's when I realized how much more you could do with SAS. It became my passion. I'm still interested in teaching, and now I've created a YouTube channel."
Reflecting on his own experience, Harris offers a word of advice for current and prospective analysts: “Always stay open to learning new skills because they can lead to new opportunities, but never abandon your true passion.”
3. Helps employees solve complex problems
Additionally, upskilling and continuous learning develop critical thinkers with a broad knowledge base and a diversified skill set – which helps them to get answers to questions and glean valuable insights.
According to Antonio P. Garcia, a solutions engineer for Datadog, gaining exposure to big data and machine learning through the SAS Academic Program equipped him to be a stronger, more effective problem-solver.
Tackling problems with a broad range of skills, Garcia says, brings a sense of purpose and passion to his work.
A path to relevance, opportunity and competence
Helping them stay relevant in their careers, open new doors and become more competent problem-solvers, upskilling has played a key role in SAS users’ career growth and professional development – and offers the same value to other users today. In the past year, more than 144,000 jobs in the US requested a SAS® skill, according to Lightcast in 2023. And there's no sign of that trend slowing down.
“It's true: the more you learn, the more places you’ll go,” Garcia says. “To top it off, most SAS training is free for students. You can't get better than that.”