SHRM Survey: Data Analysis Skills in Demand for Jobs of the Future

Workforce planning will be critical as 59% of employers expect to increase number of jobs requiring data analysis skills in next 5 years

Nov 14, 2016
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Start with a growing demand for workers who understand data analysis and an already tight job market. Add in the need for specialized data analysis skills. 

The result: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported today that the demand for workers with data analysis skills is expected to continue growing during the next five to 10 years.

SHRM’s Jobs of the Future: Data Analysis Skills report, sponsored by the American Statistical Association, found that 59 percent of U.S. organizations expect to increase the number of positions requiring data analysis skills in the next five years.

The SHRM survey examined the supply of and demand for data analysis skills, the types of employees needed for these jobs, and the skill and education requirements. It found:

• 82 percent of responding organizations have or plan to have positions that require data analysis skills in 2016.

• 78 percent of respondents reported difficulty recruiting for data analysis positions in the last 12 months.

That all adds up to a tough time for HR professionals as they seek the talent they need for jobs such as data analyst, data scientist, statistician, market research analyst, financial analyst and research manager. But the survey results also point to opportunities for more effective workforce planning, professional development and employee training.

“It is valuable for organizations to engage in workforce planning to define future business needs, identify gaps between the existing and future workforce, and to develop strategies to meet these needs, especially for in-demand skills,” said Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at SHRM.

Data analyst positions are found in variety of departments, most often in accounting and finance (noted by 71 percent of respondents), human resources (54 percent), and business administration (50 percent). Most commonly, these are full-time positions at the midlevel management (79 percent) and individual contributor (73 percent) levels. But 60 percent of organizations require senior management or executives to have data analysis skills.

Moderate data analysis skill levels are most commonly required for these types of positions (noted by 83 percent of respondents), for which organizations typically require a bachelor’s degree. At least one-third of these organizations prefer a degree in analytics, computer science or statistics. 

“Growing complexity in the use of data analytics could lead to organizations seeking out talent with these highly specialized skills,” Esen noted. “If this happens, HR may be faced with recruitment and retention difficulties. To deal with these potential skill shortages, HR needs to prepare for its current and future workforce needs, including justifying investments in employee training and development.”

Methodology: The survey polled almost 400 randomly selected SHRM members who work at organizations of 25 or more employees. Conducted in August and September, it has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.


Media: For more information or an interview, contact Kate Kennedy at Kate.Kennedy@shrm.org and 703-535-6260 or Sundra Hominik at Sundra.Hominik@shrm.org and 703-535-6273.

Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

About the Society for Human Resource Management 
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR professional society, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries. For nearly seven decades, the Society has been the leading provider of resources serving the needs of HR professionals and advancing the practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit us at shrm.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SHRMPress.

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