The skill that makes candidates twice as likely to get a job

A report from the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) argues that by 2021, students with data science and analytics skills will be twice as likely to get a job, Jamaal Abdul-Alim reports for Diverse magazine.

However, only about one out of every four college administrators say they can promise their graduates are learning data science and analytics skills. The problem is even more pronounced among underrepresented minority students. Many administrators say underrepresented minority students do not enroll in data science classes at the same rates that they enroll in other STEM fields, according to the report.

Brandeis Marshall, an associate professor and chair of computer and information sciences at Spelman College, would like to change this, writes Abdul-Alim. She's been given a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to train faculty at two historically black colleges and universities, Spelman College and Morehouse College, to help them incorporate data science and analytics into their curricula. Marshall also hopes to raise awareness about data science and analytics among undergraduate students.

Dr. Marshall will be training two groups of 10 faculty members at Spelman and Morehouse College during year-long professional development programs. She is excited about the opportunity to help them fuse data science into their undergraduate courses. Using the grant from NSF, she'll also be conducting research on the effectiveness of data science modules, career presentations, and other methods that will help get underrepresented students into the field

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Marshall tells Diverse that data skills will be critical for students, no matter what they go on to do after graduation. "I cannot think of one discipline or field that does not collect, store, categorize, manipulate and process data for information management," she says.

Marshall says that learning technical data skills also teach students helpful soft skills, such as how to "define problems, isolate information gaps and investigate solution paths" (Abdul-Alim, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, 6/29).

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