COVID-19 pandemic has hugely appended the lives of millions of employed professionals, especially the ones working in the data and analytics industry. Not only this crisis has brought in the new normal of remote working but has also pushed analytics in the forefront, which in turn, has altered the way analytics professionals carry out their work. In fact, according to a recent survey done by Analytics India Magazine, it has been noted that 92% of leadership believe that the demand for analytics would gain traction in the post-COVID world, which will bring out the necessity for organisations to hire new analytics talent.
Data scientists and analytics professionals who have already been in this industry would understand this COVID transformation that organisations are going through. However, for a junior data scientist who has recently been hired, or starting out his career amid or post this crisis would experience a completely different scenario.
For amateur data scientists or newly graduates, this pandemic could be tormenting as the majority of companies have little to no interest in hiring fresh analytics professionals. Despite that, if any of these freshers manage to land a job, they are going to experience something way different than what they expected while graduating the course. In fact, in a recent survey, out of the students graduating this year, 54% of them responded that the pandemic impact on the labour market had shaken their confidence in finding a right job. In comparison, 33% of them have said they feel there is going to be a huge struggle to get into the industry they’re graduating in.
While the analytics professionals and specialised data scientists who have been in this industry for some time, can get synced with this new norm of working. It might be a little challenging for analytics professionals who are just starting their career and might have to find ways to overcome these unexpected obstacles. So, if you are new to this industry, this article can guide you with a few things that would change for analytics professionals in the post-COVID world.
With remote working and virtual hiring in place, there has been a new norm of hiring where businesses are no more bound to hire data science talents from their geographical region. This would, in turn, create more competition for freshers and amateur data scientists who are starting their career amid this crisis. Now, these freshers have to compete with not only data scientists from their own region or country but also with professionals from other parts of the world. On the other hand, it would also increase more opportunities for Indian data scientists to apply for jobs that are outside the country, which in turn, would help them gain a better salary. In fact, according to a recent news article, it has been noted that the average salary for Indian developers is $38,229 per year, which is in comparison way lesser than the developers in the US who managed to earn $109,167 per year.
Thus, to keep themselves relevant, it would be critical for these young data scientists to continuously upskill themselves with appropriate skill sets that would make them significant enough. To support these amateur data scientists, many edtech companies have launched their free as well as paid basic and advanced analytics and AI courses that would help them sustain in this uncertain time. Krishna Kumar, the CEP and founder of Simplilearn, said to the media, that as the landscape is evolving and companies are relying on advanced technologies, “it is a necessity for professionals to upskill and stay ahead of the curve.”
Learning Process Gets Isolated
Upskilling is an essential aspect for the data scientists who are just starting out their career amid this crisis. With the pandemic disrupting the way businesses work, many are looking to employ professionals with advanced skill sets. Thus, upskilling would help these analytics professionals to make advancements in their career. In fact, in a recent LinkedIn’s report, it has been revealed that 64% of professions, including data scientists, would increase their focus on learning amid this crisis.
However, with companies mandating their employees to work from home, the whole upskilling and learning process for these young data scientists becomes isolated. In the pre-COVID era, companies usually create training programs as well as in-person workshops for young analytics professionals to accustom them with their new workplace as well as learn the skills that are required for their business. However, the lockdown has entirely omitted that process, and now professionals need to rely on online courses for learning those skills. Alongside, post the onboarding, these data scientists have to start working from home for a foreseeable future, and that would restrict their communication with other teammates, and thus, would impede the learning process through their colleagues.
On the other hand, although these online courses are the only way for these new data scientists to gain their knowledge and enhance their skills, it comes with several challenges. Not only these online courses come with limited practical experience but lack direct interaction with their students, which gets challenging for these new data scientists who need hand-holding in their initial times.
Collaboration Would Require Efforts
Data science is one aspect of the business which requires immense collaboration among the team to solve business problems. Effective collaboration among data scientists would not only allow the companies to make informed decisions but also enhance business operations and build better products. The founder and CEO of a data science startup, Dataiku — Florian Douetteau, stated in his interview that data scientists can’t work in isolation, in fact, “one of the most important factors for data science success is effective collaboration.”
Collaboration is even crucial for young data scientists who are just joining the company. However, this pandemic has mandated employees to work from home, including analytics professionals and data scientists which has given rise to online collaboration. Yet, these online collaborations bring a lot of challenges for new data scientists who need in-person training to understand the business and its problems better. Not only do these collaborations diminish productivity and efficiency of these data scientists but also create a significant communication gap between the employers and these recruits. Further, asking the right question is again critical in the data science industry to solve business problems, but with online collaboration, these amateur analytics professionals can face a challenge in using the right question at the right time. And such ineffective collaboration would hamper the work of the data scientists, which in turn, would impact the businesses’ bottom line. Therefore, new data scientists need to make a lot more effort for cross-functional communication to sustain in the times of online collaboration.
Contract-Based Hiring Can Be On The Rise
Another transformation that the workplace has encountered is contract-based hiring, which is also going to apply for the data scientists and analytics professionals in the post-COVID world. After the pandemic cedes, businesses would rely on cost-cutting measures, and therefore, would turn towards hiring freelancers, gig workers as well as contract-based hiring that would allow them to avail data science capabilities for specific projects and keep their tenure for a limited time. This also allows companies who are under a financial crunch to hire highly paid data scientists for particular projects and avail the analytical benefits.
Although contract-based hiring or recruiting freelancers can be extremely beneficial for companies in the post COVID world, it would undoubtedly bring challenges for professionals in this industry with the increased competition. So, even if these new data scientists are looking to join companies as a full time, many will only get placed as a contract-based worker during this crisis. Contract-based workers always have a competitive edge on full-time employees, as they come with cost edition benefits, and also provide a wave of flexibility in the organisation. In an article, the cofounder and CEO of Workgenius, Marlon Rosenzweig stated that “Companies realise that being on the payroll and being in-office for certain functions is not necessary, and I think now they have started to sort of embrace the freelance world a little bit more.”
Alongside, with this cost-cutting perspective, businesses would also be looking to hire more generalists than specialists amid this crisis. And therefore, these young data scientists should resell themselves to know the overall concept of data science rather than having domain-specific knowledge. Such respelling will help them take different projects from different organisations which would require different skill sets.
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Sejuti currently works as Senior Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org