The demand for highly qualified big data analysts is outstripping supply to the point where it can take many months to fill vacancies, says Georgina Barrick, divisional managing director of Insource ict – a division of Advtech Resourcing.
The information technology recruitment company said there was a dire shortage of all specialised ICT skills in the country.
“Highly skilled and experienced big data analysts, data science experts, data modellers, machine learning boffins as well as artificial intelligence professionals are becoming as hard to find as hen’s teeth,” Barrick said.
“We all know that there is a dearth of skills in data analytics but there seems little that can be done about the situation in the short term because the majority of students entering universities don’t have the foundational skills in mathematics and science to enter this field.”
The recruitment expert said the primary reason for the shortage was that the big five banks, consulting firms, and JSE listed companies were snapping them up as fast as they were graduating.
“Big data has become a panacea for many of the systemic ills that are besetting the South African economy because it is seen as a cure-all. Because – if correctly applied – big data can assist companies to maximise their resources more than any other discipline, these men and women are in huge demand not just in the business world but also in the scientific field which includes medical research and big pharma,” Barrick said.
“The highly skilled specialists are also demanding large salaries because of the scarcity,” she said.
One of the stop-gap measures is for data analytics software companies to do in-service training, like Centurion-based Moyo Business Advisory MBA, a specialist business consultancy and big-data analytics house.
Dewald Lindeque, business development director at MBA said big data analysis was having a huge impact on both the business and scientific worlds.
“It is literally being used to predict the future, finding new cures for cancer, seeing what lies beyond the stars through the SKA radio telescope, and making corporates more profitable.
“In the retail sector which is being particularly squeezed by the current economic downturn, big data is being used to reduce cost overheads and wastage and at the same time using existing data to help grow companies that otherwise might not have survived.”
“Instead of waiting for quarterly auditors reports to see whether companies are making a profit or a loss, executives and managers can now see in an instant exactly where problems are likely to develop and address them before they become a major threat to the survival of the enterprise.”