Data illiteracy plagues Australian workforce

Published on the 06/03/2018 | Written by Jonathan Cotton


Aussie data illiteracy

What will it take for industry to actually realise its analytics potential?...

Even though data and analytics has been the number one investment priority for CIOs for several years running, attaining a significant degree of data literacy – that is the ability to derive meaningful information from data – seems to be something easier said than done.

It seems the complexity – not to mention sheer volume – of data collected can make analysis difficult, especially in real world, day-to-day circumstances (legacy tools anyone?).

The APAC Data Literacy Survey – commissioned by US software company Qlik and polling over 5,000 full time workers across Australia, Singapore, India, China and Japan – has uncovered the stark realities of data access and empowerment in the workforce, revealing many workers chronically unsure of how to get the most from the data they have access to.

According to the survey, almost two-thirds (65 percent) of Australian employees believe they have to deal with a higher volume of data at work than three years ago. In fact, the majority (72 percent) of workers are using data once a week (or more) in their current roles, demonstrating rising expectations to use more data at work.

More than a third of Australians surveyed however reported a feeling of overwhelm when reading, working with, analysing or challenging data, with two thirds saying better data literacy levels would increase their value at work (with and more than three quarters saying it would “enhance their credibility”).

The majority of workers (82 percent) don’t think they’ve had adequate training to be data literate and 41 percent admit to making decisions on “gut feel” over informed insight “frequently”.

That’s something that needs to be addressed systemically and systematically, says Jordan Morrow, head of Data Literacy at data analytics company Qlik.

“This research shows that workers across Australia are not being empowered by their employers,” says Morrow.

“On the one hand, expectations are up: employees must use more data, day-to-day, than they ever have before. On the other hand, employers are not providing the training needed to succeed. Both employers and employees need to take ownership and be more proactive in bridging this skills gap.”

“On the one hand, expectations are up: employees must use more data, day-to-day, than they ever have before. On the other hand, employers are not providing the training needed to succeed.”

“In today’s data driven economy, data literacy is as important as the ability to read and write. In fact, being able to read, work, analyse and argue with data is critical to helping us make better decisions. As a result, we are increasingly seeing these skills in high demand by employers across Australia and beyond,” said Morrow.

And where there’s a will there’s a way: While just 18 percent said they “strongly agree” that they have access to all the data sets they need to perform their job to the highest possible standard, the majority (66 percent) said they would be willing to invest more time and energy into improving their data skills – if given the chance.

 

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