By Keren Pakes, General Manager, The Bright Initiative by Bright Data
From the way we purchase our favourite brands to the way we book our travel, data has become an everyday factor that impacts what we do next, including determining the ads we click on as well as those we ignore.
Businesses as well as public sector and non-profit organisations use big data and, more specifically, publicly available web data to guide strategic decision-making and activities. From the service or product that needs to be initiated or developed based on market research to measuring public sentiment around a certain initiative to how to price an offer in a way that is most attractive to us, the general public, all these needs are addressed with the largest public database of them all: the World Wide Web. Furthermore, newly launched AI models such as ChatGPT are transforming our world. This means that quality-driven web data has an even bigger role in training these models and keeping them at the highest level they can be.
“…the demand for data, and for people with the skills to effectively utilise it, is incredibly high – and expected to continue to rise.”
Consequently, the demand for data, and for people with the skills to effectively utilise it, is incredibly high – and expected to continue to rise. This is true for almost all roles, not only engineers. For this reason, data skills – and basic data literacy for all – sit at the core of the Government’s National Data Strategy (NDS), with ministers stressing the need for ‘the formal and vocational education system to better prepare those leaving school, further education and university for increasingly data-rich lives and careers’.
All of this adds up to huge career opportunities as employers of all types look to recruit graduate talent ready to work with data.
An opportunity for students of all subjects
The good news is that careers in data, or opportunities to enhance data knowledge are open to graduates with a wide range of skills and expertise – not only to those who have studied subjects like computer science, statistics and maths. The technical skills gained through studying these types of subjects are, of course, important but so too is the ability to determine how to get the most value from data in ways that take ethical considerations into account. This means that graduates who have studied humanities, business and creative subjects are also well placed for careers in data-driven roles.
“the ability to determine how to get the most value from data in ways that take ethical considerations into account… means that graduates who have studied humanities, business and creative subjects are well placed for careers in data-driven roles.”
Skills that employers are looking for
So, what kind of skills are data industry employers like Bright Data looking for in graduates? First, there are ‘soft skills’. The data domain is reinventing itself almost by the minute. Therefore, skills like flexibility and the agility to adapt to new technologies are fundamental needs in this domain. Graduates need to be able to quickly adopt new technologies and methodologies with zero inhibitions. This is the reality of this fast-paced domain.
Analytical skills are undoubtedly among the must-have data skills to land a role in the data domain. This is for the sole reason that dealing with mass amounts of data involves knowing how to put together a clear picture from what can be seen as a messy, unstructured and complex process. When it comes to the web data domain, where Bright Data is the industry leader, analytical skills are vital to know what customers are after, be able to anticipate that need, and deliver it with quality and clarity so organisations can simply tap into it to make fast decisions that are necessary in today’s reality.
Strong creative skills are also key. Knowing which data is most vital to a company’s mission, as well as focusing on the end result, is valuable. The most successful and innovative industry players today know which data to use for almost every strategy step they require. Whether it is for product development, a new competitive offer, a new investment direction, or even, as of recently, Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) strategies, the list of data uses is never-ending, and the creativity to use the right kind of data to make the right kind of decision is always needed.
“And of course, there are many roles that do require specific technical skills. The ability to code and conduct statistical and quantitative analysis in a pool of data remains important.”
And of course, there are many roles that do require specific technical skills. The ability to code and conduct statistical and quantitative analysis in a pool of data remains important. Simply put, knowledge of Object-Oriented Languages and data structures and algorithms is essential to data science roles, and their importance is only growing.
The types of roles that graduates could fill
As mentioned, the data domain is only growing. The latest numbers show that the data generation is expected to not only multiply but simply explode. Therefore, the data domain is the place to be. There are many roles available, from programmers to team leads to data scientists to product owners and managers as well as data analysts – the sky’s the limit. As a company that has grown rapidly in recent years and generated over 40 new roles that never before existed, it is hard to put a finger on the exact roles that Bright Data – and the wider industry – will continue to need. This means that graduates with the right skills and attributes can look forward to an ever-growing range of opportunities in the data industry for many years to come.
The Bright Initiative by Bright Data is a global programme that uses public web data to drive positive change in society. It is a member of the National Data Strategy Forum and the Data Skills Taskforce.
The Bright Initiative by Bright Data ran online workshops for Exeter students on the 15th and 16th of February as part of Digital and Coding Week.