Just over one in five employees believe their employer is preparing them for a more data-oriented and automated workplace (21%), 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% of employees surveyed reporting they had changed jobs in the last 12 months because their employer wasn’t offering enough upskilling and training opportunities, there is a stark need to better upskill workforces to support the workplace transition that is 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 usage is extending enterprise aspirations for its potential and, in turn, transforming working practices. As organizations shift from passive data consumption toward a state of Active Intelligence™, where continuous data becomes integrated into working practices to trigger immediate actions, the report predicts how this will impact skills requirements and professional opportunities.
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% 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 report their use of data and its importance in decision-making has doubled over the past year. While 89% 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, with intelligent tools helping them make better decisions (84%) and become more productive (83%).
To realize its potential, 40% of C-level respondents predict their organization will hire a Chief Automation Officer within the next 3 years, rising to above 99% within the next decade. But the investment cannot end at senior hires; those on the front line need support during this transition. And 58% 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 & 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% salary increase for demonstrating this skillset. For the average US employee, this translates into an additional $11K USD to their annual salary**.
Despite being perceived as critical to the success of the enterprise – both today and in the future – just 11% 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, over that of their current employer or educational institutions, 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%), such as data analysts and data scientists. Just one-in-10 offer this training to those in HR, finance and marketing (12%, 11% and 10% respectively) despite more than two-thirds of employees working in these functions stating data literacy is already necessary to fulfil their current role (70%, 74% and 67% respectively).
Over three-quarters (78%) of employees are instead investing their own time and money (64%) 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 USD each year. Some vote with their feet, with 35% of employees reporting having left a job in the past 12 months due to their employer not offering enough upskilling and 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. “But 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.”