Talent Shortage Impedes Malta Business Data Analytics Efforts

Publication Date: Nov 17, 2020
Talent Shortage Impedes Malta Business Data Analytics Efforts

Article by Claude Calleja published on the Sunday Times of Malta on 15.11.2020
The skills gap and long recruitment times are hampering data analysis in companies according to a recent finding. In fact, it is believed that data science will account for 28% of all digital jobs by 2020, but a growing gap in demand and available skilled workers means that almost half of European companies believe they will have difficulty filling the positions of data scientists, data engineers, and data analytics specialists in their business. It is worrying that the same report shows that some posts remain unfilled because the talent is not being provided with the necessary skills. More than half (49%) of companies in the ten largest EU countries are currently fighting for data engineering jobs in data analysis, while 37% are also fighting for data engineering jobs. The growing gap and demand for available talent means that, according to the latest Data Science Talent Shortage Report, almost half of European companies are having difficulty filling the roles of data scientist, data engineering and data analytics specialists.

Businesses in Malta are actively looking for ways to bring more talent to the island, but so far demand has outstripped supply. Exploiting the expertise of data scientists and data processing specialists from other countries could alleviate the shortage by creating a recruitment frenzy. These specialists take on the task of collecting and organising large and diverse data sets, designing and testing various algorithms, using machine learning and analysing data for patterns. 

A two-pronged approach is needed: teach young people the benefits and opportunities of data, as early as possible, and train existing staff to analyse data to ensure that the true meaning of the information that companies hold is not simply lost forever. These roles focus not just on data, but on corporate strategy which helps executives identify areas that require additional resources and where the company should scale. 

If the skills shortage is real or exaggerated, companies should examine the role of data science in their corporate strategy. While the gap between the skills of data scientists cannot be closed immediately, it is important that companies and government work together to ensure that companies take steps to create a better-equipped workforce. Eventually, democratisation of data science will allow the development of new ways to generate data-centred solutions.
When experts analyse data, it means they get all the answers they need. You need to define your business goals and see what kind of data can best help you achieve those goals, and then develop your analytical skills. Analytical findings that provide added value for a company cannot be derived without a workforce.    

Companies are also starting to respond to the country's shortage of data scientists and working with other companies and educational institutions to close the gap before it gets too big to manage. Companies that fail to apply data science effectively could put themselves at a competitive disadvantage, and companies that want to build an army of data scientists may continue to struggle to recruit the talent they want and eventually spend more on salaries. 

The eSkills Malta Foundation maintains that the hardest part of data analysis is asking the right questions.  Several new trends have transformed the way companies acquire and apply data science skills, and present savvy companies with opportunities to address talent bottlenecks. Companies that do not play by the rules face huge challenges in recruiting and retaining staff, and the reality of a talent shortage is returning.

This article was prepared by collating various publicly available online sources.