Data scientists, data engineers and business analysts are in high demand in the job market, but applicants often lack the range of skills critical for those positions, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“In addition to technical skills, employers are looking for people with business acumen and the ability to communicate well,” says David Oury, senior lecturer in mathematical sciences and data science development director at Bentley.
The university’s new Data Analytics major builds this well-rounded skill set. Specialized courses like one that Oury teaches — a data science course that emphasizes programming and data manipulation — are balanced by traditional business courses in accounting, economics, finance, management and marketing.
“Analytics skills cross disciplines and can be applied to a vast array of sectors,” says Oury. “They are used in banking to detect and reduce fraudulent claims, in health care to reduce costs and improve outcomes, and in the media to monitor user sentiment and discover trending topics.”
Moreover, the major helps students recognize the impact of their analyses on the broader society and their obligation to perform their work responsibly. These competencies, he adds, reflect Bentley’s longtime focus on business ethics.
In addition to teaching undergraduate courses and others in the Master's in Analytics program, Oury leads the campus-based Data Lab. There, students can meet analytics professionals and practice sophisticated statistical techniques. Hands-on work includes creating, running and interpreting regression models and their output; using industry software such as SQL, R and PYTHON; generating new information by examining large databases; extracting knowledge from structured and unstructured data sets; applying analytics skills to make predictions; and interpreting and communicating results of analyses.
According to the PwC report, requirements for data science and analytics jobs are often multidisciplinary and call for an ability to link analytics with creating value for the organization. Communication, creativity and teamwork are essential for solving problems and making decisions.
“Analytics and data science in particular are exciting new fields,” says Oury. “They reward deep technical skills and strong interpersonal skills.”