The global demand for analytics talent persists, with organisations facing challenges finding qualified individuals to support their growth.
McKinsey’s recent survey revealed a significant shortage of skilled practitioners for the most in-demand tech skills, with less than 50% of the required professionals available worldwide.
Despite the well-known STEM skills gap, institutions have a unique opportunity to train the next generation of tech leaders and students looking to uncover an edge and propel them further in their careers.
In 2022, we showcased the remarkable story of Jiangshan Xu at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia. He took his curiosity for data and storytelling in his Master of IT to great heights, winning the UTS and SAS Postgraduate Data Mining Prize.
The success and interest in this UTS prize have grown further in 2023, encompassing two awards: the Undergraduate Data Mining Prize and the Postgraduate Data Mining Prize. The prize recognises the highest achievers in the university's Introduction to Data Analytics and Fundamental of Data Analytics courses, respectively.
Building interest in technology from youth
For Misha Milanovic, the Undergraduate Data Mining Prize recipient, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology was a natural choice. He developed an interest in the field from a young age.
"The subject that particularly sparked my interest was an introductory subject to data analytics. Its approach and practical work allowed me to prepare theoretical concepts for projects that simulate real-world scenarios, cultivating my passion for extracting insights from data and producing insightful predictions," said Misha.
Milanovic’s studies taught him several in-demand analytical skills, including predictive modelling, data visualisation, collaborative analytics, and statistical analysis.
“The experience enhanced my problem-solving skills and deepened my understanding of the real-world applications of data mining," Milanovic said.
Business and technical, the best of both worlds
For others, seeing the ongoing demand for technical skills offers an opportunity to combine existing business skills to take their career to the next level. Jan Hofmann, the Postgraduate Data Mining Prize winner, aimed to strengthen his commercial skills with a technical foundation. "[I wanted] to support my commercial skills with technical foundations, given I've been working in tech for most of my career and to help with the shift from sales to product [marketing]."
Hofmann’s experience in the Master of Information Technology program at UTS helped him merge his expertise in software development, game development and web development into the world of analytics. He also built upon a data analytics program he previously ran professionally.
In addition to technical skills, the university experience has helped him realise several qualities.
"Collaboration, an openness to change and attention to detail are three of the qualities that are most valuable in aspiring analytics professionals," Hofmann said.
Key qualities for aspiring analysts
Milanovic shared insights for students considering a career in analytics. "For an aspiring analyst, key qualities like analytical skills, critical thinking, problem-solving and effective communication are crucial,” Milanovic said.
Milanovic encouraged those with a penchant for problem-solving, attention to detail and technical skills to explore opportunities in SAS, emphasising that data-driven decision-making is a highly lucrative career path.
As we get close to the end of 2023 and people set their sights on making 2024 their best year, it's worth drawing inspiration from stories like Milanovic’s and Hofmann's of high achievers who've identified analytics as offering the edge as they continue to build their careers.