Has COVID-19 Made the Data and Analytics Industry Stronger?
Prior to COVID-19, Data and Analytics was a fast-paced, candidate-led market but, unlike so many other industries, the pandemic has neither slowed down or reduced the need for the technology and services that the profession offers.
This article highlights four key areas where the industry continues to grow and excel during this unprecedented time, and Data and Analytics is expected to keep thriving post-COVID.
An active jobs market
This period of unrest has moved the Data and Analytics world to a much more business-led trade, with the number of jobs on offer in steep decline but the amount of available and engaged talent increasing day by day.
Ultimately, this means a much more competitive environment which, in turn, leads to stronger, more technologically equipped teams who derive from the crème de la crème of the talent pool – a phenomenon we haven’t seen since the 2008 recession.
As organizations vie against each other to nab the top talent, this has created a candidate pool which is not afraid to stick its head above the sand and develop their skills at rapid speed.
For those businesses who have assumed that the current pandemic will create a much more loyal, stable workforce, they need to be aware that this simply isn’t true. If anything, candidates are more ready than ever to climb the ladder.
And this is because employers in the Data and Analytics space are still hiring, with clients holding a desire to be able to understand their market and its future and, now more than ever because of the recession, it is a need not a want.
The insights the market offers not only allow its clients to forecast financial and industry predictions, but also gives them a deeper understanding of their own customer base, providing stronger and more agile working relationships.
Therefore, there’s no surprise that this turbulent time has led to most brands and businesses leaning on Data and Analytics to continue as normal, leading to a significantly less turbulent and uniquely active market.
Career priorities – the contract market
Whilst permanent job offers have seen some slowdown, contracted and freelance roles have not. With 77% of contracts being renewed this year, we are seeing a mirror image of the financial crash in 2008.
While employing a bigger number of contractors may suggest the market is in an unsure state, for Data and Analytics, this move is preferable for many in the industry. Contractors within the market worry very little about job security. With 81% feeling more or just as secure in their roles than this time last year. This level of security most likely derives from extensive contract lengths; 30% of workers are in contracts for a year or more, 42% for anywhere between four to 12 months, and 80% in jobs for at least three months.
Alongside the drive to upskill and develop is the need to move on once certain skills are acquired and perfected. Those within the market understand that it is an industry that moves very quickly. Therefore, the more you can learn in as little time as possible, the better; a short to mid-term contract is just as sought-after as a long-term, permanent settlement, especially for those still developing their skillset.
For years, there have been notable movements made to increase the number of women in STEM, and whilst we can’t ignore that some areas of the market are still lagging, in others we are beginning to approach that desirable 50/50 split.
However, what we must highlight here is that this change is happening very much at the entry-level. Which does then have a knock-on effect to areas such as the gender pay gap. This derives from the disproportionate numbers of male senior leaders compared with their female counterparts.
Further on in the career ladder, the largest issue mainly lies in women taking maternity leave and the ingrained attitude that this goes on to stall their career. Going forward, the industry needs to look at how equality is created for women who choose to have children, and how we create equal access and opportunities at work for them.
Nevertheless, the changes we are beginning to see with a much more diverse split of genders within the industry provides a lot of hope for the future of STEM, including Data and Analytics. In the next five to 10 years, we hope to see a much more balanced level of seniority within all firms and a closed, equal pay system. One driven by employers who are seeking to make real, actionable change within the industry.
The current ‘new normal’ – which is mainly comprised of a larger percentage of remote working and flexible hours – shouldn’t be something to fear for any industry, but especially not for the tech market.
For Data and Analytics, working from home is not a new concept, in fact a lot of people were utilizing the flexibility of the job long before COVID. Therefore, when we revisit this topic in a year or two, we don’t expect to see any sweeping changes in the level of those who choose to work remotely.
Data and Analytics is a relatively new market, and therefore it may be viewed as an industry that does test the boundaries of ‘usual’ or ‘traditional’ working attitudes and methods, especially in the US.
However, this is not a bad thing, with many reaping the mental and physical benefits this flexibility gives such as reduced anxiety and increased work-based performance.
As COVID continues to mold and shape our society, both personally and professionally, we will undoubtedly see peaks and troughs for many months. But, as the economy and the overall jobs market recovers, we can be sure that Data and Analytics will play an integral part.
The reliance on statistics to determine the future success, or decline, of industries, markets and their brands has never been so rife, and this is a trend that will stay for the foreseeable future.
David Farmer is the COO and a founding partner of Harnham. A key figure in data and analytics recruitment, he has helped hundreds of analysts develop their careers and many businesses build their data teams. He now leads the growth of Harnham’s presence across the U.K., Europe, and the United States.
Weekly news and industry insights delivered straight to your inbox.