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Retooling the Workforce : The value of developing data literacy skills…

July 21, 2020

Sparkline’s HR & Education Director, Sarah Ann Rebello shares her thoughts on the importance of upskilling teams on the topic of data analytics

I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work in the People business for a long time (we don’t need to say exactly how long). It never tires me to work hand in hand with individuals and organisations to help aid the professional and personal development. 

Which is why now, more than ever I feel passionate that we should not shy away from or park the Learning & Development plans for ourselves and our teams…let’s explore a little more on why and how we can do this and why data literacy could be a perfect example of where to start when thinking about what skills we should be focusing on for today’s world.

Retooling...So What does this actually mean?

When we talk about retooling in the talent development sense we should think of it as ‘rearming’ and ‘pivoting’; aiding existing employees in becoming capable of delivering increased value which is reflective of a rapidly changing Global Business Landscape. It doesn’t mean we need to implement a complete shift in your hiring practices or restructuring the team you have at present.

Many of us would have seen a report in CNA recently  “The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is expecting a rise in job losses as the local economy grapples with the fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.”

Yes this is a reality of the world we live in at present, and yes this can be daunting.

In the Analytics field where Sparkline specialises, change is a constant and moving at lightning speed is a given. So how do we keep up if we are restricted in growing our people strength for the meantime? 

Well in response to these concerns I found an Interesting Point of view that came from: SUSS (Singapore University of Social Sciences) when looking at the impact of both mature and younger talent in the market during these times: 

“ (for mature workers), changes in respective industries caused by Industry 4.0 technologies. Younger workers, at the same time, are also facing an increased threat of long-term unemployment.

To reverse this trend, efforts must go towards helping workers to be open to and secure opportunities for reskilling to ensure continual employability. (This) is not without its challenges and costs, such efforts can greatly improve long-term workforce readiness during economic downturns”

By retooling your existing bench strength you will also be able to leverage the existing knowledge of your business and consumers which in itself is hugely valuable. This doesn’t mean the hiring of entry level talent and/or interns is no longer relevant this will likely be an ongoing talent pipeline we will have the benefit of harnessing and hiring from, the fact to focus on here is in these challenging times when hiring new resources and increasing headcount at any level just may not be an option or the best option for the meantime. 

Never before has it become more evident just how valuable upskilling is for many industries and job roles and becoming data literate as a starting point, can offer huge value across many different businesses and business functions (not just within marketing and/or analytics).

Ok so let’s look at some potential benefits of developing specifically data literacy skills...

  1. You’ll make more confident decisions:  “data is logical and concrete in a way that gut instinct and intuition simply aren’t”

  1. You’ll become more proactive: The data tells a story, which you and your organization must then react to.

  1. You can realise cost savings : Launching products more effectively, analysing people and employee/hiring trends, decreasing and managing expenses across the business 

And finally we are in the midst of ‘The Data Democracy’!

We have seen a surge in free analytics tools and platforms which can be utilised at enterprise level  to help aid the development of data-driven culture internally.

The use cases in our field can be as simple as understanding how many customers I have visiting my website every day right through to having the ability to segment users and audiences and run targeted marketing campaigns to various consumer audiences and a whole host of other hugely valuable opportunities that essentially increase ROI. 

Couple all of this with the fact we have a vast array of learning tools and programmes in the market we can now all look to becoming data driven and data literate, data and analytics is slowly becoming demystified. 

Retooling can be achieved from an individual learner perspective (perhaps you are looking to make a career switch) or perhaps on behalf of your organisation by enabling your workforce the opportunity to upskill and access to the right tools to do so. 

The time is now and the opportunity is there for everyone to adopt a lifelong learning mentality...

At Sparkline we are Analytics Consultants that LOVE to train.. We have programmes designed to help both enterprise-wide skills development and individual learning opportunities. Some of which we run in partnership with the Singapore Govt. 

Please visit us here wwww.sparkline.com/training to find out more about who we can help you and/or your teams retool!