Workers need upskilling in data literacy – report

Workers need upskilling in data literacy – report

With a majority of Australian workers feeling that they do not have the right skills for the future of work, a new report found that the lack of data literate workers is starting to impact productivity.

Industries have already voiced concerns about a widening skills gaps despite the introduction of new micro-credentials in universities and tie-ups between VET and the tertiary education sector. An earlier report found that, while 88% employers also struggle with the skills gaps, only 45% of these businesses resort to educational and internal training to upskill their workers.

Now, a new report from Accenture and Qlik revealed that the lack of data literate workers is starting to have an effect in global productivity.

Surveying 9,000 employees globally – with 1,000 of these from Australia – the report found that companies with employees who are not well-equipped with data literacy skills end up losing an average of five working days per employee every year – or about $13.8bn in productivity.

The report also found that, while 88% of Australian employees do recognise the importance of data as an asset, only 39% of these end up depending on data to make decisions while 47% of the respondents admitted to frequently relying on “gut feel” instead.

In Australia, 56% of the respondents reported that they have experienced data-overload, which had a hand in worsening their workplace stress.

Of these respondents, 34% said they end up procrastinating at work by at least one hour a week when it comes to dealing with data-related tasks and 31% participants admitted to have taken at least one sick leave due to the stress.

Why a data literate workforce matters

According to the report, employees who are data literate are at least 50% more likely to say that they feel empowered to make better decisions. Of the Australian participants, 41% of these also said that data literacy training can make them more productive.

Also, 24% of these respondents said receiving data literacy training would help reduce their work-related stress.

“Despite recognising the integral value of data to the success of their business, most firms are still struggling to build teams that can actually bring that value to life,” said Jordan Morrow, data literacy global head at Qlik.

“There has been a focus on giving employees self-service access to data, rather than building individuals’ self-sufficiency to work with it.”

Sanjeev Vohra, group technology officer and global lead for Accenture’s Data Business Group, said that companies have to ensure that their employees have necessary support if they want to maximise the use of data in their operations.

“Data-driven companies that focus on continuous learning will be more productive and gain a competitive edge,” Vohra said.