Data Skills are the Need of the Hour

Data Skills are the Need of the Hour. The humongous amount of digital data being generated, and companies' need to glean insights and make predictions from them have made skills in data visualisation, data science, and machine learning among the most valued for technology recruiters today, reports Times of India. This is reflected in the number of working professionals signing up for specialised courses in these spaces. Candidates who complete the courses tend to get between 20% and 50% increase in salaries. Kashyap Dalal, chief business officer at online learning platform Simplilearn, says that big data and analytics courses were the big growth drivers in the past three years. While data science continues to remain popular, accounting for 30% of all learners, courses on visualisation tools and machine learning have become very attractive over the past six months, he said. Almost 25% of Simplilearn's applicants have opted for machine learning.

Machine learning reduces the need for human intervention and speeds up analysis, and with machine learning algorithms now easily available on the cloud, the opportunity to use them has increased dramatically. Data visualisation solutions enable even the technologically less literate to quickly understand correlations and other insights gleaned from data. And data science allows users to go beyond analytics, to making predictions. AcadGild, another online training courses provider, has seen almost 300 students applying for the courses on the data visualisation tool Tableau in the past nine months. "The number was just 40 in the preceding nine months. We are seeing similar numbers for the courses on Spark," says co-founder Vikalp Jain. Apache Spark is a real-time analytics tool for big data.

Tableau and Spark apart, specialised courses gaining ground include DevOps (development operations), a method of delivering IT systems faster, the Python programming language, which is needed in building machine learning solutions, and Selenium, an automation testing tool. For Jigsaw Academy, which provides online analytics courses, courses on data science and machine learning account for more than half their customer base. "The analytics space is fast changing. While courses on SAS and R used to be popular five years ago (for analytics), newer courses in big data and machine learning have replaced them," says co-founder and CEO Gaurav Vohra. Jigsaw recently tied up with Graham School, University of Chicago, to launch an integrated course on data science and machine learning.

Those applying for these new age courses are mainly software programmers who have done their engineering and earning around Rs 5 to Rs 8 lakh in annual salary. Simplilearn's Dalal says a person who was earning Rs 6 lakh in annual income can move on to a position like data scientist and earn more than Rs 10 lakh after going through the courses on DevOps or machine learning. Lovleen Bhatia, co-founder and CEO of online course provider Edureka, says that for an IT company, the billing rate for the new skills would be $250 an hour, compared to just $20 an hour for older technologies. Many IT companies, including Fortune 500 ones, are reskilling their employees, training them in the new technologies through 4-6 week bootcamp programmes. Jigsaw's Vohra says companies like Cognizant, Accenture, Genpact, WNS, and Gramener have approached them to upskill employees and to hire people for specialised roles like HR analytics, and data scientists. "Automation has replaced a lot of jobs that were earlier done by software engineers. So companies now want everyone to have in-depth knowledge about the new technologies and communicate that to their potential clients," says Edureka's Bhatia. In the past nine months, around 2,500 people took its machine learning course. "This number would have been 1,000 in the nine months prior to that. We have seen a 250% increase year-on-year for DevOps and a 150% y-o-y increase for big data courses," says Bhatia.

The courses are of four months to nine months' duration. A single course would cost around Rs 25,000, while a combination of different courses could be as much as Rs 60,000. Those signing up for these courses are mostly in the 25-28 years' age group, with experience of 2-7 years in a job that's heavy on quantitative methods. All platforms advise students to develop strong mathematical skills. "They should also have basic knowledge about programming languages," says AcadGild's Jain. Here's what these courses are about: Data visualization describes any effort to help people understand the significance of data by placing it in a visual context. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognized easier with data visualisation software; Data science describes scientific methods, processes and systems to extract knowledge or insights from data in various forms, either structured or unstructured; and Machine learning enables computers to get into a mode of self-learning without being explicitly programmed. When exposed to new data, the computer program is enabled to learn, grow, change, and develop by themselves.

SJP @DigitalAsian - ShareYaar

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