In a new report, “Should We Offer a New Data Science Program? A New Way To Discover Program Niches,” Emsi’s senior VP of analytics, Dr. Yustina Saleh, and chief innovation officer, Rob Sentz, discuss some ground-breaking research that demonstrates how colleges and universities can use job postings to respond to the demand for data science—or any niche need.
Data science is everywhere these days. Think about millions of Americans shopping, banking, traveling, and networking on our ubiquitous technologies. We generate massive amounts of raw digital data, which has in turn generated intense demand for skilled analysts who can actually make sense of the data. As a result, many higher ed institutions are asking, Should we develop a data science program?
The short answer is, yes. However…
Before adding a data science program (or updating an existing program), you should first determine your region’s particular niche. Data science is an oceanic field with a multitude of applications, and the local picture is frequently different than the national picture.
Takeaways From the Report
In your region, data science will largely be defined by local industries and their unique workforce needs. So the optimal data science program will avoid both the copy cat method (mimicking the successful program in a college one state over) and the shotgun approach (trying to cover everything at once) in favor of homing in on the specific needs of your economic and workforce situation.
The goal of this study is to provide colleges, universities, and other workforce professionals with actionable insight to inform program development around not just data science, but any highly nuanced employer need.
- Using an in-depth analysis of all job postings (aka real-time labor market data) that mention data science, we discovered that the skills tend to cluster in specialized “vertical lanes” that are unique to specific industries and employers, and less specialized “horizontal lanes” that are the core skills relevant to all industries and employers across a region.
- Nationally, data science is a broad skillset defined by skill clusters in four key areas: Analytics, Software/Web Applications, Business Intelligence, and Statistics. Regionally, the skill clusters vary tremendously, based on local industries and employers.
- This has big implications for course design. When considering new programs or courses focused on analytics and data science, colleges and universities can use such analysis to refine and differentiate their courses in order to meet specific economic niches, provide students with better value, and satisfy employer needs.