Data Science

New Certifications to Help Close the Data Scientist Deficit

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In this era of swelling data, the mining of insights to predict future outcomes with greater accuracy, to automate tasks, and to recommend actions based on that data is growing increasingly critical for organizations and businesses of all sizes.

Such is the role of the data scientist, the profession the Harvard Business Review dubbed the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century in 2012. But with such attention and such need, especially in the face of soaring data volumes, the demand for the role and function of the data scientist has dramatically outpaced the supply over the last several years.

In fact, the lack of qualified talent is leaving a great number of organizations across the U.S., starved for the discipline. According to a recent Linkedin study, the Linkedin Workforce Report, Aug. 2018, there are currently more than 151,000 data scientist jobs going unfilled across the U.S., with “acute” shortages in New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

It’s against this dramatic backdrop that IBM, with its history of marrying education and innovation, with a focus on the research and development of AI and of our clients’ success with AI, is making two key announcements in the area of data science certification and skills training.

First, IBM, together with The Open Group, a global consortium that develops open, vendor-neutral technology standards and certifications, announced today the creation of a first-of-a-kind Data Scientist certification that will give organizations of any size the ability to assess and validate data science skills through practical experience.

For data scientists, like IT professionals around the world, The Open Group certifications are a globally recognized, credible and portable validation that you have the knowledge, skills and expertise to get the job done. It provides an objective, reliable measure of data science capabilities and qualifications.

For IBMers the certification is obtainable directly within IBM – as we are the first company to offer it to our employees. The certification is also portable and serves as a new career model. It helps data scientists achieve, through project work, three levels of certification, and supported by a series of badges through the IBM Open Badge Program. Certification is ultimately awarded through experience-based profiles that are assessed by recognized industry experts within the field.

“With the launch of the Data Scientist certification, we are taking the first step in giving individuals and organizations an industry-wide agreement for the profession, helping businesses identify top talent and ensuring individuals have the opportunity to demonstrate their value,” said Andrew Josey, VP, Standards and Certification at The Open Group. “Data Scientists work on mission critical issues within a business, so it’s essential that they have the right skills and can apply the appropriate methodologies to solve the business problem at hand.”

Second, IBM, which has been at the forefront of this professional landscape, today announced an internal Data Science Apprenticeship program. Part of our “New Collar” jobs initiative, this 24-month program is designed for job candidates who may not have a college degree and consists of three main components: education, mentorship and practical experience.  Over the course of the apprenticeship, employees will work to meet the requirements to reach Level 1 of The Open Group Certified Data Scientist. This new program is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor as a professional apprenticeship.

The moves we’re making on data science skills training and certification is the right thing to do for IBM, for the burgeoning data scientist discipline and for business, at large. These efforts will not only fuel a new generation of data scientist, but provide a meaningful credential to employers for searching and hiring them. They will help take the mystery out of the recruiting process, and further elevate the field of data science, bringing clarity and confidence to organizations along the way.

IBM has made it our mission to support this league of professionals at the heart of the AI transformation. We view the data scientist as the tip of the spear in helping organizations shift from relying on instinct and experience – to becoming truly data-driven.

Chief Analytics Officer and Chief Economist, IBM

Seth Dobrin

Vice President, Chief Data Officer, IBM Analytics

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