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Demand for IT professionals has dropped and wages have been superseded by a flurry of coveted big data roles, a study by Tech Partnership has found.

Demand for IT professionals has dropped and wages have been superseded by a flurry of coveted big data roles, a study by Tech Partnership has found. 

While IT vacancies dropped by 9 percent, adverts for big data staff increased by 41 percent, Tech Partnership has found. 

Further, the government funded body revealed a discrepancy between demand and salary for IT and big data professionals. While both ranked well above the average UK median salary of £27,000, IT roles were offered an average of £42,000 and big data professionals £55,000.

Additionally, there has been tenfold increase in demand for roles in big data projects over the past five years.

Businesses were primarily searching for developers to assist with their big data efforts (41 percent of all adverts), followed by architects (10 percent). Just two percent of adverts specified the term data scientist, and the remaining adverts were for consultant or analyst roles in 2013, the survey found.

Using this research, Tech Partnership forecasts that by 2020, 346,000 big data-specific jobs will have been created.

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The report, sponsored by analytics software SAS, stated: “Not having the right tools and people could be a barrier to competitive advantage – not to mention economic growth – put upward pressure on big data salaries, and lead to burn-out among the precious big data specialists.”

Despite the diffrence in demand and wage value for big data as opposed to IT roles, computer science was the most highly desired skill for a data scientist, with software engineering and agile software development tailing behind.

Struggling to recruit

Businesses looking to get a competitive edge by bringing data scientists in-house need to be certain of what they are looking for in a candidate, SAS’ HR director Sue Warman advised. Equally, they must not expect candidates to be able to cover all soft and technical skills desired, but look to hire complementary teams.

Warman said: “We are expecting people to be all singing all dancing and that is causing stress. People are not programmed that way. At the moment, as this data science field comes together, we are expecting people to be all encompassing. You cannot be all things, so what will naturally happen is we will understand the space more effectively and will start to design companies more effectively…We are catching this in its early infancy…and it is ill formed.”

Andy Cutler, Director of Strategy at SAS added: “The nirvana is someone who understands data, who understands maths and stats and is capable of standing up in front of a group of business people.”

Data scientist Dr Mohammad Abbas told ComputerworldUK that often interviews he has found businesses seem unsure of what value his skills could bring and appear to be ticking boxes that they do not fully understand.

He said: “Rather than asking me what I could do for the business, what insight I could bring, they [interviewer] asked if I could ‘do complex SAS code’. That doesn’t mean anything.”

The study found that 77 percent of all recruiters surveyed struggled to hire data scientists throughout 2013, a 20 percent increase on 2012.

Businesses including MI5, PricewaterhouseCoopers, HMRC and British Airway gathered yesterday at the SAS big data festival in Brunel University to recruit graduates into their data analysis arms. 

The study used data from Experiean, the Office for National Statistics and IT Jobwatch. It also concluded a web survey with 70 responses from businesses.