Higher education is overflowing with data points to be parsed, analyzed, and evaluated, but a data-related skills gap could stand in the way of analytics’ potential.
Data experts have for years said college students should become adept at analyzing what’s known as Big Data as jobs in the data field explode in some parts of the economy. A human element is necessary, these experts say, no matter how much data in available.
SAS on March 24 unveiled an online program known as SAS Analytics U — an initiative meant to better train students on the ins and outs of data analytics skills while providing an online platform where they can discuss data-centric topics amongst each other and with experts.
Higher education is just one sector that has seen a flood of data change the way administrators make decisions. From retail to healthcare to security, the skills required to understand data has taken on an important role, yet there remains a dearth of Big Data-focused college graduates.
“We want to look at workforce and we see employers and companies that want the holistic picture,” said Emily Baranello, senior director of SAS Education Practice. “They want to bring together data sets from different areas and try to eliminate the pockets of data” that are so prevalent — and not nearly as useful — in all manner of sectors.
(Next page: The first-ever Big Data degree program)
College graduates who have the skills to piece together otherwise disparate data points from across an institution — whether it’s a business or university — will be in high demand as data takes on a prominent role in industry, Baranello said.
“We’ve seen a large shift in sharing that data so they can share that information and answer bigger questions,” she said. “Data opens up so many possibilities, and [SAS Analytics U] will open a lot of minds to those possibilities.”
Ohio State University is set to launch the country’s first-ever Big Data degree program after university officials said the school would spend $52 million on campus centers for analyzing data.
The importance of people in the rise of Big Data was a central talking point among officials at January’s White House Datapalooza, where White House deputy chief technology officer Nick Sinai said, “Data is only worth something if you apply it.”
SAS software is used at more than 70,000 sites in 139 countries.
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