It may seem counter-intuitive, but our research shows big data jobs – data science – are more likely to demand creativity, teamwork, research and, yes, writing skills, than other jobs.

The reason there’s a business case for becoming “well rounded” is that big data jobs are increasingly less about statistics and more about making sense of data and applying it to business cases. That requires foundational and business skills – and in some cases very specific data-centered skills as well.

Those specific data-centered skills include clinical data analysis, for which demand grew 54% in 2016; data science, with demand up 40% in the same time period; quantitative data analysis, up 38%; data visualization, with demand increasing 31%; data engineering, up 28%; A/B testing, up 22%; and machine learning, with demand up 17%.

But aside from those specific skills, employers also like big data number crunchers to know how to write and research – even more so than other employers – and writing skills are critical. Our research shows that while creativity is valued in 6% of all jobs, it’s important to 9% of employers in big data. Writing skills is valued in 22% of all jobs and in 27% of big data jobs. The gap in research skills is even bigger: It’s valued in 10% of all jobs and by 29% of employers in data science. The same goes with problem solving and teamwork. Both are valued in the overall job market, but both are more valued in big data.

These numbers come in part from a report we conducted for IBM and the Business-Higher Education Forum. During that research we found that demand for data science and analytics skills is growing rapidly, which is no surprise. The surprise came when we found that many big data employers like their hires to be proficient at the soft skills like writing skills and research skills (Download our report on soft skills, which we’ve termed “Baseline Skills,” here).

To meet these changing demands, colleges, businesses and training centers should rethink hiring, training, and partnerships – with an eye toward blending softer skills such as writing and specific number-crunching skills.

Writing skills matter, even for big data jobs

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