Companies About To Face a Data Literacy Reckoning

Image credit: iStockphoto/mokee81

Data literacy is now an employee retention issue.

A recent Qlik research “Data Literacy: The Upskilling Evolution” noted that 35% of employees changed jobs in the last 12 months because their employer wasn’t offering enough upskilling and training opportunities.

Part of the reason is AI. Companies are deploying new AI models to streamline workloads and improve workforce efficiency. 40% of C-level respondents predict their companies will hire a Chief Automation Officer within the next three years, rising to above 99% within the next decade.

This, in turn, is creating a demand for data literacy. 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%).

The study found that business leaders and employees already know the demand for data literacy — defined as the ability to read, work with, analyze and communicate with data. They see it as the most in-demand skill by 2030.

Meanwhile, global employees surveyed report their use of data and its importance in decision-making has also doubled over the past year. Also, 89% of executives now expect all team members to be able to explain how data has informed their decisions.

So, it is no surprise that 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, vice president of innovation and 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.”

Yet, there is a massive gap in rolling out data literacy initiatives, despite employers seeing it as critical for success. The survey noted that just 11% of employees surveyed feel fully confident in their data literacy skills.

The problem is that enterprise leaders see data literacy as an individual’s responsibility. Simply put, they leave it to their employees to improve data literacy.

Even when organizations increase their data literacy training, they focus on specific roles and not the organization as a whole.

The research showed that data literacy is primarily offered to those working in specific data-related roles (58%), such as data analysts and data scientists. Just one-in-10 provide this training for 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 fulfill 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 USD2,800 each year.

Some are voting 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,” he added.

Image credit: iStockphoto/mokee81