LONDON: Sep 14 2017 – A report published today by Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and Pearson, on behalf of the Data Skills Taskforce, says that more needs to be done to understand the value of data and how to apply it to UK businesses. “Data Skills for the Future” assesses progress against recommendations in the 2015 Analytic Britain paper, based on the Taskforce’s links to hundreds of companies around the UK.
Analytic Britain, a policy briefing by innovation foundation Nesta, on the supply and demand for analytical skills in the UK, was recognised by the government for its valuable recommendations. It showed how good data usage could convert to economic growth, better decision making and answers to major societal challenges.
“Data Skills for the Future: Positioning the UK for success in a data driven world”, shows that there has been more open discussion amongst UK companies about data as a resource for companies, as well as growing government support for digital skills. The establishment of the Alan Turing institute is a key example, bringing together leading UK universities to create the UK’s National Data Science institute. However, despite this step forward, a good number of UK businesses still do not see the value in data analytics.
The Data Skills Taskforce was established to encourage the take-up of Analytic Britain’s recommendations. As one of the founders, Accenture is calling on more businesses to join the taskforce and help raise awareness of the value of data. Ray Eitel-Porter, managing director at Accenture Digital, chairs the Taskforce. He commented: “We want to deliver a thriving, outward-looking digital economy by bringing business, government and academia together. As our report shows, however, there is still much to be done. Leaders need to set the example by embracing data, analytics and digital. We need to work together and be creative to break down the walls that are stopping data analytics adoption across the UK.
Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock commented: "We’re determined to maximise the huge potential of big data which could add billions of pounds to our economy - from powering price comparison sites to improving the flow of transport around cities. That's why we're investing £15 million to develop a National Innovation Centre for Data which will not only spark innovation among the next generation of tech experts but also help businesses across the whole country capitalise on the immense value of data. The Data Skills Taskforce also aims to inspire, educate and train people in data skills and I encourage businesses to support its work.”
Inaugural TeenTech Data Science Award, sponsored by Accenture
To promote greater engagement with and pursuit of digital skills, Accenture will help launch the TeenTech Data Science Award. This year-long award encourages schools to participate in projects that use genuine data sets to address real-world challenges. Students can select one of three pre-prepared datasets, or they can gather or import their own data. Those opting for pre-prepared data can solve the complexity of picking a Hollywood blockbuster, helping to improve education policy or reducing violent crimes.
Maggie Philbin, CEO of TeenTech, added: “The new Data Award, sponsored by Accenture, fits perfectly with the greater need for enthusiasm in data-based subjects. The critical thing is to show children that data analytics as a career is interesting and challenging, not an obscure subset of maths or computer science. Once they can see what a data science career looks like not only can they better realise their own potential, but they can also contribute to the national and societal improvements that the Data Skills Taskforce describes in its report. There are major opportunities for young people who can not only manipulate data but can work well in teams, apply critical thinking and communicate their ideas. We’re very excited to see how the teenagers respond to the challenge.”
Despite a move in the right direction, the Data Skills for the Future report emphasises that the progress thus far is not enough. Atif Khan, Sector Manager for IT and Digital, Pearson, added that we need a new mentality when it comes to education: "Learning isn’t a destination, starting and stopping at the classroom door. It’s a never-ending road of discovery, challenge and inspiration. For many people, learning is the route to a job to support their family, or to the skills that will help them progress in their career. For others, it’s simply a passion for discovery. Whether it's at home, in the classroom or in the workplace, learning is the key to improving our life chances.”
In light of the findings, and the government’s 2017 Digital Strategy outlining a commitment to working with the Data Skills Taskforce, Accenture calls for UK business and data skills experts to join the Data Skills Taskforce.
The Data Skills Taskforce will work to three principles:
- Raise awareness of the value of data for UK businesses: work must be done to highlight where opportunities exist for UK businesses. Importantly, information is required on how companies could go about identifying and capitalising on these opportunities.
- Raise awareness of data science career opportunities for young people: work must be done to build the perception that data skills are valuable for development of a dynamic, fulfilling and well paid career, so young people seek the skills that companies require.
- Develop links between government, business and educators: the government’s 2017 Digital Strategy outlines a commitment to working with the Data Skills Taskforce. We must now continue to propel the recommendations put forward and develop stronger connections that enable them.
About the Data Skills Taskforce
The Data Skills Taskforce, chaired by Accenture, sets an agenda for change to inspire, educate and upskill data talent, drawing on best practice from the UK’s leading institutions. The taskforce was established to review and promote recommendations made in innovation foundation Nesta’s, Analytic Britain, across schools, universities and the labour market at large. It comprises UK businesses, data skills stakeholders and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.
The TeenTech Awards challenge young people to develop ideas to make life better, simpler, safer or more fun using science, technology and engineering. The Data Science Award, sponsored by Accenture is open to young people aged 11-19 working in teams of up to 3. Schools should register on the website now to receive the information pack, supporting resources and to be connected to mentors. The TeenTech Awards are a powerful way to help young people who may initially have little interest in technology develop skills, understand their potential and see how they might very much enjoy working in the industries of the future.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 394,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.