In the South African context, skills development is frequently centred around the youth and acquiring entry-level skills to improve employment prospects. However, the truth is that there is a significant shortage of skills in the mid to high-level positions, particularly in the field of data management.

By Gary Allemann, MD of Master Data Management

Data has rapidly become the foundation of the modern enterprise, and this skills gap is detrimental to business, especially considering that effective data management is legally mandated by the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA). Skills development initiatives need to address multiple levels within organisations, and eLearning programmes offer the ideal platform to achieve this goal.

Rethinking Skills Development: Beyond the Basics

Despite the abundance of programmes aimed at youth empowerment, it remains crucial to recognise that entry level skills are not sufficient when it comes to data management. In addition, there is an increasing trend of people with mid-level experience leaving the country, thereby widening an already significant skills gap. In order to change this trajectory, it has become imperative to adopt a broader perspective on skills development.

The Multifaceted Challenge of Data Management

The intricacies of data management are intricately woven into the fabric of business outcomes, necessitating a heightened level of experience that extends beyond entry level staff.

Crucially, there are many different dimensions, starting from data literacy and running the gamut through data management, analytics and data science.

Unfortunately, the current landscape reveals significant gaps across all these dimensions. A recent survey by the Centre for Business Analytics at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business underscores this challenge, with 41% of respondents identifying poor data literacy as a major hurdle to the success of their data initiatives.

Mastering Data for Business Insight

We need to start with the ability to understand data and what it is used for in a business context, which requires the skill to draw meaning from data and communicate this in a way that offers business insight.

This is important to business from both an operational and an analytical level.

Accessing international expertise through eLearning

Data has rapidly emerged as the foundation of modern business, not only from an analytical perspective, but also for enhancing operational efficiency in the ongoing evolution of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

In today’s digital realm, everything revolves around data. If we fail to effectively manage it, we risk losing control over our businesses.

To stay competitive in a digital world, it’s crucial to understand how to leverage data optimally across all channels. Furthermore, fostering internal data skills can mitigate the need for outsourcing, thereby minimising overheads.

The Role of Online Learning

Online learning is an essential tool in addressing this complex environment, which requires multiple levels of skills development and a view to furthering career paths and growing the pool of available talent.

Providers like eLearningCurve offer expertly curated online curricula to address a wide range of cross- and upskilling. From the foundation Data Literacy Certification (DLC) for knowledge workers, to the advanced Certified Information Management Professional (CIMP) accreditation for data specialists, and the newly introduced Data Analysis Certified (DAC) accreditation for analytics professionals, the offerings are tailored to elevate data competencies.

Paving the Path for Future Success

When it comes to successful business, knowledge of data is power, and it is essential to take skills development further than simply addressing entry-level internships.

Adopting a mindset of learning and growth and fostering individual and team careers can help to plug the widening data skills gap and set businesses up for future success.