Demand For Data Scientists Far Outdoing Supply, Industry Survey Suggests

A recent survey of 604 companies in German tech confirmed that the demand for Data Scientists, Data Analysts, and other professionals with related qualifications is rising fast.

The survey, conducted by the digital association Bitkom, is limited to the German tech scene. But it seems plausible that the patterns it reveals reflect those of the European tech industry as a whole, because of the relative alignment of other major European economies with the German one (in spite of the latter’s deceptive lead in tech salaries).

In this article we will cover the findings of Bitkom’s survey in detail, and assess what they tell us about the state of Data Science in the tech industry.

Facts And Context

Bitkom is a federal association in Germany, currently linked to over 2000 companies from the digital economy. They are a large interest group in a privileged position to discuss tech topics.

For this study, Bitkom were able to survey 604 companies based in Germany, which they subdivided in small (20 to 99 employees), medium-sized (100 to 499 employees) and large (500+ staff) businesses.

The cut-off point at a minimum of 20 employees means that startups — a substantial part of the emerging tech industry — are mostly not represented in this particular survey. Bitkom’s survey should therefore not be seen as contemplating the total range of all available opportunities for professionals qualified in Data Science, but only those related to established business.

The Present State Of Data Science

Adobe Stock / Gorodenkoff

Presently, the number of businesses employing Data Science experts is relatively small, with only 6% of all companies confirming that they have at least one such professional in their teams.

The domain of Data Scientists and similar specialists is predominantly that of larger companies. A solid 33% of all companies employing 500 or more people reported having Data Scientists in their rank and file.

However, that value drops to 15% for middle-sized companies and to a tiny 3% for smaller companies. This makes sense — the larger the company, the more raw data is it likely to work with, and therefore the greater the need for someone able to process it.

The Future Of Data Science

Although Data Scientists are not very common in small companies, they are nonetheless highly coveted. No less than 15% of smaller businesses declared that they are looking to employ such a specialist in the future — almost triple the 6% who already have one. Even for smaller firms, the need for Data Scientists in a team is becoming more pressing.

Large companies, where Data Scientists are already well established, also report a desire to increase their share. While 33% already have a data specialist, no less than 38% are looking to employ one — by far the largest figure in this survey, even if the relative discrepancy (and therefore the urgency of the search) is not as great as it is for small companies.

Curiously, the middle-sized firm category is the only one in which more companies already have an expert than are looking for one, with the former representing 15% of the affirmative answers against the latter only 10%.

The Challenge: Data Scientists Are Hard To Find

Adobe Stock / insta_photos

When asked how easy or difficult it is to find Data Scientists on the job market, the companies surveyed by Bitkom provided an unequivocal response.

A mere 4% declared that it is ‘quite easy’ to find such skilled professionals. The remainder of the companies reported that it was either ‘quite difficult’ (58%) or ‘very difficult’ (38%). Considering how many of these companies are actively looking for Data Scientists, this suggests that the demand for them far outdoes the supply.

No doubt this state of affairs contributes to the solution that 28% of the companies have adopted — that of training data specialists in-house. The reasons given for this approach are various but not mutually exclusive: 75% of companies cite the need for competences specific to their own internal characteristics and line of work, 46% due to an increased need for relevant expertise, and 25% report being driven by the difficulty of finding qualified professionals in the general labour market.

Conclusions

Bitkom’s survey points rather unambiguously to an increased and ever more urgent need for qualified Data Science experts in the tech industry.

While a substantial number of Data Scientists are already present in large tech companies, they are still not sufficient to meet the demand. Moreover, the need for such specialists is becoming more pressing especially for smaller companies, only a small percentage of which currently have them on their payroll.

Data Science has long been touted as one of the most future-proof jobs in tech, and current trends seem to confirm that. Modern bootcamps in Data Science exist precisely to address the dearth of specialists that currently afflicts the tech industry.

If you want to enter the world of tech, then rest assured — Data Science is as safe a bet as they come.

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