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May 17, 2016

Skills Gap Also Includes ‘Failure to Communicate’

George Leopold

The data science skills gap continues to widen, with emerging automation tools like machine learning only just now starting to take up some of the slack. PayScale, the online salary database, released a report Tuesday (May 17) on the state of the “skills economy” that ranks data analytics, programming and cloud computing skills among the most sought-after by U.S. employers.

Nevertheless, the skills survey also highlights a continuing lack of writing and other communications skills among recent college graduate along with a paucity of problem-solving skills.

Seattle-based PayScale ranked proficiency in the Scala programming language as the top-paying technical skill sought by employers. The human capital specialist said Scala skills could translate in pay boosts of up to 22 percent.

The other leading skill sets sought by employers are Hadoop, which boosts pay by an estimated 12.5 percent, and cloud computing know-how, which boosts average pay for skilled technical workers by as much as 10.4 percent, the company estimated.

PayScale, which tracks hiring and salary trends in a salary profile database designed to match employers with candidates with appropriate skills, said it surveyed more than 40 million people for its workforce skills report. “The data we’ve collected show that even though their education may make recent college graduates feel prepared to enter the workforce, only half of hiring managers agree with them; managers feel crucial skills in recent graduates are frequently lacking or absent,” noted Katie Bardaro, PayScale’s vice president of data analytics.

The survey also found that technical proficiency in specific software programs like Hadoop is less of a problem than basic skills like writing, public speaking and problem-solving skills. “Effective writing, speaking and critical thinking enables you to accomplish business goals and get ahead,” added Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace. “No working day will be complete without writing an email or tackling a new challenge, so the sooner you develop these skills, the more employable you will become.”

Once those skills are developed, the fastest way to a promotion and pay raise are programming skills such as Scala and enterprise communications tools related to Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) platforms. Those were followed by Hadoop fluency, familiarity with cloud computing and software development kits for Android and iOS devices.

Overall, PayScale said employers are looking for candidate with strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills. “STEM jobs consequently command higher salaries,” the survey found.

The survey echoes earlier surveys of the data science market that place a high premium on SQL and Hadoop experience. CrowdFlower recently released an analysis of the 3,490 postings for data science jobs on LinkedIn, and sorted out the top 21 individual skills that appear most often. Some of the results were expected — SQL topped the list — while other results could be leading indicators on how the data science field is evolving.

SQL was the most commonly cited skill, and is a requirement in 57 percent of all LinkedIn job postings for data science. Hadoop came in at number two, with a solid 49 percent rating.

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