Data Science

Building Data Science Strength from Within

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Filling gaps in portfolios, improving upon products and making them not just whole, but advanced, is part of most organizations’ business regimen. It’s the kind of work, the kind of commitment to constant reflection and improvement that separates the successful from the not-so-successful.

This philosophy transcends to people, as well. If a gap exists in the roster of your business team you have to fill it or live with the consequences – stagnant innovation. Possibly nowhere is this more evident than in the burgeoning world of AI, where a gap in your development team can be an imperative – stalling AI projects, if not preventing them from ever beginning.

And today, with demand for data scientists far outpacing supply, organizations of all sizes are staring at gaping holes in their business teams and by association, their futures.

With such a dearth of data scientists — Linkedin reported late last year that 151,000 data scientist jobs were unfilled in the U.S. alone — more companies are looking inward for ways to build the skills among their existing workforces.

That’s why IBM in January led an effort with The Open Group to develop of a first-of-a-kind Data Scientist certification that gives organizations the ability to assess and validate data science skills through practical experience to advance their AI aspirations.

The IBM Data Scientist

At IBM we wasted no time in implementing an internal program with The Open Group Data Scientist accreditation (we were actually the first Open Group member to do so). And in the few short months since turning on the program, we have certified more than 140 employees with the position of Data Scientist.

Not simply an online course, this program is immersive and includes peer-reviewed project work. It is offered with three levels of certification, and ultimately, certification is awarded through experience-based profiles that are assessed by recognized industry experts in the field.

But the program, led by Maureen Norton, Chief Analytics Office, IBM, is only the latest example of IBM’s commitment to helping organizations (including our own) overcome the data scientist conundrum with innovative skills and training programs. For example, also in January, we announced the Data Science Apprenticeship program, a 24-month program designed for job candidates who may not have a college degree. This program consists of three main components: education, mentorship and practical experience.

Helping Colleges with Open Source Data Science Curriculum Program

And last week we, along with the University of Pennsylvania and the Linux Foundation, announced an innovative, first-of-a-kind open source project designed to give universities around the world the tools to build Data Science programs fast. Spearheaded by IBM’s Ana Echeverri, the project is currently in incubation, while IBM and UPenn build the initial set of materials to create a curriculum kit. The kit will comprise a set of open source building blocks for teaching the core concepts of data science in undergraduate and graduate programs, such as Python and open source tools and frameworks. It will also include slides, documentation, code, and data sets that could be adopted or updated by anyone.

Once it launches in early 2020, colleges will be able to engage with the tools and programs directly from Git Hub, for free. To get early insights and stay up to date with this project please register here.

IBM is committed to helping organizations fill the widening data science gap in their ranks. Our hope is that these steps, among others, help to build a solid path to sustained AI experimentation, development and deployment. Doing so will speed the journey to AI and help improve business performance, efficiency and growth.


Note: The 2019 Stevie Awards for Best Employers honoring achievements in human resources were presented in New York on September 20.  IBM’s Data Scientist Profession work was honored with a silver award in the category of Leadership or Skills Development Solution Provider of the Year.


THINK Blog: IBM’s First Certified Data Scientists: “It’s Amazing”

Chief Analytics Officer and Chief Economist, IBM

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