Only 17% of workers in Europe say they know how to read and analyse data properly, according to research by Qlik.
The study found that few employees in Europe consider themselves “data literate” and those who do have a firm understanding of how to use data think they are performing better at work.
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Of those who are confident in understanding data, 76% claimed to be performing well at work, compared with 49% of the general workforce.
Dan Sommer, senior director at Qlik, said data skills are becoming increasingly important, even in day-to-day life.
“Data literacy is as important as the ability to read and write,” he said. “It adds weight to our arguments and helps us to make better decisions. And these skills are just as important in our everyday lives, where we are overwhelmed with information in the news and social media. We are dealing with a huge flood of data, but few have the skills to deal with it.”
Big data and data analytics skills are becoming increasingly important to organisations as the amount of data collected from day-to-day operations increases, and demand for data scientists is rising.
Qlik’s research found that many of those who would benefit most from access to data are not necessarily the most likely to have it – 85% of manual workers said data would help them perform their roles better, but only 49% said they had access to the datasets they needed to perform well.
Meanwhile, 79% of senior executives said they had access to all the datasets they needed to perform their role, despite only 24% saying they had the knowledge to use this data effectively.
Some also say that although young people think the new UK computing curriculum sets them up for digital in the workplace, it does not always provide the skills required to understand more complex concepts in the future, such as supercomputing.
The younger generation around Europe appears to struggle more with data skills than some others, with 58% of those aged between 16 and 24 claiming to struggle to differentiate between normal data and data that has been manipulated, and 10% of university graduates claimed to have left education with the data skills they need for the workplace.
Employees in Europe are keen to learn more data skills, with 65% saying that if they were given the opportunity, they would be keen to invest more time in improving their data skills, and 70% saying that increasing their skills would make them more highly regarded in the workplace.
But 43% said they had not had adequate training in using data, and only 23% said everyone in their business had the capability and access to use data properly.