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Big Data Skills Getting Harder to Find

As if the much-publicized skills shortage wasn't hindering enterprise Big Data efforts enough, new research from a staffing firm indicate the analytics jobs are getting even harder to fill.

The news comes in the latest update by staffing firm TEKsystems, which has been providing quarterly addendums to its "Annual IT Forecast" report released last December.

Over the course of its quarterly reports made since that report's publication, the firm has been noticing Big Data jobs are getting harder to fill, and with the latest numbers, they are now among the very most difficult.

"Big Data analytics continued its progression, now placing in the top five for the first time," TEKsystems said in a statement last week. "Project managers, architects and BI at some time have placed within the top five during the course of the year."

The explosion of enterprise analytics based on Big Data has led to highly skilled data developers and data scientists being able to command top salaries. And according to some observers, the difficulty in hiring them has kept enterprises from capitalizing on data-related analytics initiatives that can be used to give them an edge in competitive business insights.

Now, according to TEKsystems, elusive skilled Big Data analytics workers are becoming as hard to find as other development-related job classifications have been for quite some time. "Three skill sets -- programmers and developers, security and software engineers -- consistently placed in the top five most difficult positions to fill with exceptional talent throughout three-quarters of 2015," the company said. "Programmers and developers -- originally forecasted as the most difficult to fill -- declined throughout the year, but regained the top spot at the end of September."

Tech vs. National Unemployment Rates
[Click on image for larger view.] Tech vs. National Unemployment Rates (source: Dice)

The TEKsystems data was published at about the same time careers site Dice.com reported on government statistics that indicated a slight rise in tech unemployment rates, though they're still below the national average.

"The technology industry's unemployment rate crept upward in the third quarter of 2015, hitting 3.0 percent -- its highest rate since the second quarter of 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)," Dice said in its Tech Trends Q3 2015 report. "Despite that uptick, the industry still did better than the overall U.S. labor market, where the unemployment rate dipped slightly to 5.2 percent."

As Dice said in an earlier report, some developer-related job segments are doing better than others, with Web developers, again, seemingly lagging behind their coding brethren.

"In the third quarter, most technology segments saw an increase in unemployment, albeit by different amounts," Dice said. "The joblessness rate for Web developers hit 5.10 percent in the third quarter, for example, a significant rise from 3.70 percent in the same quarter last year."

In fact, in a possible indication that the skills shortage is lessening, Dice reported that "Programmers, network and systems administrators, software developers, and computer and information systems managers all experienced an uptick in joblessness on a year-over-year basis."

However, the careers firm didn't necessarily see that data as a bad sign. In fact, it might mean the opposite.

"Despite the uptick in unemployment, the BLS data suggests that an average of 500,000 employees per month in the professional and business services industries voluntarily quit their positions in the first two months of the third quarter," Dice said. "While lower than the second quarter (which averaged 510,700 employees per month) and the first quarter (514,700 employees per month), that third-quarter number implies that technology professionals feel good enough about the health of the economy to seek out new employment with better salaries and perks, or even become independent contractors."

Big Data specialists and those involved in ancillary professions -- such as those dealing with the Internet of Things (IoT) -- are probably among those workers feeling pretty good about their situations, as the IoT is reported by TEKsystems as gaining in prominence.

"At the end of Q3, IoT entered the top five most impactful trends for organizations for the first time," TEKsystems said. "Forecasted as No. 8 of 10, and maintaining that rank throughout Q1, in Q2 IoT rose to No. 7, and at the end of September was ranked No. 5.

"Throughout 2015, security, mobility, cloud computing and business intelligence (BI)/Big Data have anchored the top five initiatives with the largest impact on organizations," TEKsystems continued. "The third quarter saw security retaining its top priority position, as initially forecasted, while cloud computing rose to its highest rank yet at No. 2.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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