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Data Literacy Will Be Most In-Demand Skill by 2030 as AI Transforms Global Workplaces

U.S. employees could add $11,000 to their annual salary with data literacy skills.

Note: TDWI’s editors carefully choose press releases related to the data and analytics industry. We have edited and/or condensed this release to highlight key information but make no claims as to its accuracy.

Just over one in five employees (21 percent) believe their employer is preparing them for a more data-oriented and automated workplace according to new research from Qlik, a leader in data analytics. This is despite most business leaders predicting an upheaval in working practices due to the rapid onset of artificial intelligence (AI).

With 35 percent of employees surveyed reporting they had changed jobs in the last 12 months because their employer wasn’t offering enough training opportunities, there is a stark need to better improve the skills of workers to support the workplace transition already underway.

The report, Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution, was developed by Qlik in partnership with The Future Labs and combines insights from expert interviews with surveys from over 1,200 global C-level executives and 6,000 employees. The findings, which were largely consistent across all geographies surveyed, reveal how the rapid growth in data use is extending enterprise aspirations for its potential and, in turn, transforming working practices.

Data Literacy: The Most In-Demand Skill in the Future Workplace

The study found that business leaders and employees alike predict that data literacy -- defined as the ability to read, work with, analyze, and communicate with data -- will be the most in-demand skill by 2030 and 85 percent of executives believe it will become as vital in the future as the ability to use a computer is today.

This reflects the greater appreciation of data in the enterprise. Global employees surveyed say their use of data and its importance in decision-making has doubled over the past year; 89 percent of executives now expect all team members to be able to explain how data has informed their decisions.

Underpinning More Intelligent and Automated Working Practices

The demand for data skills reflects the significant shift in the workplace due to the rise of AI. The enterprise leaders who took part in the study believe employee working practices will change to become more collaborative (84 percent) and more productive (83 percent).

To realize this potential, 40 percent of C-level respondents predict their organization will hire a chief automation officer within the next three years, rising to above 99 percent who say they will hire a CAO within the next decade. However, the investment cannot end at senior hires; those on the front lines need support during this transition. Fifty-eight percent of employees surveyed believe that data literacy will help them stay relevant in their role with the growing use of AI.

“We often hear people talk about how employees need to understand how artificial intelligence will change how they complete their role, but more importantly we need to be helping them develop the skills that enable them to add value to the output of these intelligent algorithms,” said Elif Tutuk, VP of innovation and design at Qlik. “Data literacy will be critical in extending workplace collaboration beyond human-to-human engagements, to employees augmenting machine intelligence with creativity and critical thinking.”

The True Value of Data Literacy on the Talent Market

The shift toward a more data-oriented and automated workplace creates a massive opportunity for those with data literacy skills. Every single business leader surveyed reported that they would offer a salary increase for candidates that could demonstrate their data literacy. On average, they would offer a 26 percent salary increase for demonstrating this skill set. For the average U.S. employee, this translates into an additional $11,000 to their annual salary.

Despite being perceived as critical to the success of the enterprise both today and in the future, just 11 percent of employees surveyed feel fully confident in their data literacy skills. Yet, the most common belief among enterprise leaders is that it is an individual’s responsibility to prepare themselves with the skills for the future workplace.

Where organizations are increasing their data literacy training, our research shows that it is primarily offered to those working in specific data-related roles (58 percent), such as data analysts and data scientists. Just one in ten offer this training to those in HR (12 percent), finance (11 percent), or marketing (10 percent) despite more than two-thirds of employees working in these functions stating data literacy is already necessary to fulfil their current role.

Instead, 78 percent of employees are investing their own time and 64 percent are investing their own money to plug the professional skills gap needed for the future enterprise -- with these employees spending an average of nearly 7 hours each month and nearly $2,800 each year. Some vote with their feet, with 35 percent of employees reporting having left a job in the past 12 months due to their employer not offering enough training opportunities.

“Over the past few years, investments in digitizing most business processes have transformed the data resources available, and this will continue as we move toward a more intelligent and automated workplace,” said Dr. Paul Barth, global head of data literacy at Qlik. “Investment in leading-edge data platforms has revealed a large -- and expanding -- gap in data literacy skills in the workforce. To become a data-driven company, where employees regularly use data and analytics to make better decisions and take informed actions, business leaders need to make investments in upskilling workers in every role to close the data literacy gap.”

Download the Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution report.

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