data literacy, data literacy in the workplace, employability, pay raises

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Meanwhile, decision-makers surveyed said they highly value not only the improved performance of individual data-literate employees, but the combined benefits they bring to their departments.

In surveying 623 Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) employees and decision-makers across departments, industries, and regions, a new report by Tableau has shown that data literacy could be a win-win for organisations and employees.

On the employee front, close to half of those surveyed (49%) cited increased employability as a benefit of improved data literacy; 48% cited pay raises; 43% cited perceived competency; 40% cited chances for promotion, and 39% cited more responsibility given as a motivation. Topping it all was self-betterment, with 52% seeing this as a benefit of improved data literacy.

Interestingly, the report also noted that organisations and employees who use data benefit by regularly making better and more innovative decisions, and employees who are given the data skills they need are more likely to stay with their current employers. 

Meanwhile, on the organisation front, decision-makers surveyed in APJ said they highly value not only the improved performance of individual data-literate employees, but the combined benefits they bring to their departments. These benefits include better customer experiences, increased revenue, and reduced cost.

Note that improved confidence in dealing with customers and providing a better overall customer experience is the most highly valued benefit.

However, many APJ employees still feel under-skilled in the area.

Per the survey findings, training on data skills in the APJ region tends to be reserved for specific employees in traditional data roles. Across the markets surveyed, Japan leads in training for basic data skills and overall, and it is "considerably above" the global average for it. That said, the country lags behind its neighbours in advanced training. Over in Singapore, organisations tend to concentrate on advanced skills, primarily for traditional data-focused roles.

The findings also revealed that 38% of employee respondents said they have no access to training at all — which draws attention to the point that only 36% of employees surveyed in the region believe their oganisation has equipped them with the data skills they need. Japan does slightly better than other APJ countries in this metric with 40%, compared to 35% in Singapore, for instance.

What's getting in the way, and what's needed right now?

The top obstacles to upskilling employees in data literacy include deficits in in-house resources and undeveloped data cultures, the report highlighted.

Surveyed APJ decision-makers also said a lack of staff knowledge on how to improve data skills is the biggest hindrance to basic and advanced data literacy, while the lack of a data culture and organisational support round out the top-three challenges.

Apart from the above, the survey also uncovered several areas of concern for organisations to address:

Existing training lacks reach. Only 37% of APJ organisations make data training available to all employees and 38% only offer training to employees in traditional data roles, leaving these workers to pick up knowledge through ad-hoc, on-the-job learning, including from coworkers. This stands in stark contrast to the 80% of decision-makers who said they feel their organisation successfully equips its employees with the data skills they need.

Skilled staff and companywide support are lacking. For basic data training, APJ organisations (especially in Japan) are far more likely to use courses designed in-house than from a service or technology partner. Unfortunately, many respondents from APJ enterprises said their organisation lacks the skilled staff and subject knowledge needed to design and deliver effective data courses, especially in advanced topics. Further, 39% said training materials are inadequate, which was the top challenge in the survey.

Despite the crucial role of top leadership in creating strong data cultures, only 22% of data initiatives come from companywide mandates or programmes. Additionally, 40% of surveyed decision-makers said their organisation struggles to secure the organisational support and culture needed to offer effective data-training initiatives.

Leaders and employers disagree strongly about a data training gap. Despite the low percentage of workers who receive formal data training, 79% of APJ decision-makers said their department successfully equips its workers with needed skills. In contrast, only 36% of employees think this, it was noted. 

"This huge disconnect presents a serious obstacle to the maturing of data-literacy efforts and the more mature data-driven culture that many workers and organizations desire. Some 67% of surveyed APJ employees (topped by those from Singapore) said they have voiced criticisms to managers about their data training, company data culture, and their own use of data.

"If data literacy and skilling programmes are to evolve to meet growing needs, organisations must make it an ongoing priority to hear and analyze employee feedback on strengths and weaknesses."

ALSO READ: Data literacy in the workplace: Future jobs and salary increments


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