How Big Data Is Sucking Skills Out Of Science

How Big Data Is Sucking Skills Out Of Science
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We often talk about the shortage of data scientists in IT roles to help realise the full potential of big data. One consequence of that growing demand is that actual science is finding it more challenging to hire people in similar roles.

Laboratory picture from Shutterstock

Speaking at an HDS media lunch last week, Dr Ian Gibson, CEO of university data services provider Intersect, noted that the demand for big data and analytics skills in commercial roles made it increasingly difficult for universities to employ actual research scientists. “I come from a very different big data world; science is mainly big data science these days.”

While there has been an increase in universities offering courses covering the area, that doesn’t mean everyone wants to pursue a research role. “By the time students graduate, a business has found them and offered them twice the salary of a research job,” Gibson said. “There is a significant shortage of capable analysts in universities.”

The obvious solution to this issue would be more funding for universities, but that seems about as likely as every mainframe in Australia being decommissioned. Regardless, the message remains what we’ve heard all year: there’s a lack of big data skills out there, so if you have them, you should be able to pull in a healthy salary.


  • That’s what you get when you offer two paths, one potentially socially valuable but laden with frustration (long periods of grant writing, etc) and the other much more lucrative but potentially not socially valuable.
    Same problem with brilliant physicists and Wall Street.

    (I say ‘potentially valuable’ and ‘potentially not valuable’ because some non-science big data could be really valuable, and maybe some science ones not so much).

  • As a graduating analytical chemist I have to say, hello big business with lots of cash offering to big data scientists. Where are you and where do you advertise?

  • This is a joke right?
    Most of big data jobs, like most IT jobs are now being outsourced to cheap low cost countries. There’s no future in IT in this country.

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