How to attract data analysts in a skill-short market

By Robert Half 15 August 2019

By 2020, China is expected to become the world’s largest data owner. The only problem: the country is facing a significant shortage of the data analysts needed to maintain it.

With Chinese tech hubs growing exponentially, companies need to step up their recruitment strategies in order to attract the best and brightest candidates.

However, the current skills shortage puts tech companies in the challenging position of having to compete for the most talented jobseekers.

The state of Chinese digitisation: big data

In 2018, President Xi Jinping announced a national strategy for big data, focusing on the country’s strength in the digital space, placing data as a major focus of long-term prioritisation for digital transformation.

Today, some 40% of the world’s big data patents belong to China. Three of the five biggest data centres in the world are Chinese. And thanks to a renewed focus on the digitisation of the economy, as well as legislation requiring companies operating in China to store their data in the country, the data sector is facing rapid growth as it takes on greater economic importance.

Already, the digital sector is a significant contributor to China’s economy. In 2017, the digital economy accounted for 27.2 trillion yuan, around 33% of the nation’s gross domestic product. In 2019, the sector is expected to continue to grow an estimated 25-30%.

A shortage in talent

With such rapid growth, new jobs have opened up where they didn’t exist before, and as a result, talented workers operating in this niche domain are in short supply.

China isn’t the only country facing this problem, as the challenge to find data analysts is a global issue. Rapid growth and demand is outweighing the supply of talent in this field, many of whom do not exist yet.

How to attract talented data analysts

Finding talent in a skills-short market is not an uncommon challenge for hiring managers. For companies struggling to search for data analysts, here are a few strategies to help with the recruitment process

1. Familiarise yourself with the skills in demand

Some technical skills and experience are more competitive than others, including:

  • Python coding, along with C++ and Java
  • Familiarity with Hadoop
  • SQL database coding
  • Apache Spark
  • Machine learning and AI
  • Data visualisation
  • Experience with unstructured data

2. Upskill internal talent

Investing in current members of staff often sees greater results than external hires. It’s often cheaper, motivates staff, and decreased employee turnover. It also provides an opportunity to train in specific skillsets that are currently in demand within the company.

3. Be open to international hires

Not only is this a good way to increase diversity, it also brings with it its own set of benefits: foreign workers often work harder, are more adaptable, and tend to have a mindset focused on growth. They also offer new perspectives to old or ongoing challenges faced in the workplace.

4. Bring in a professional recruiter

Discussing recruitment challenges with a recruitment specialist is an efficient way to solve hiring issues. Not only can they help find the right people, they can also provide advice on the skills needed in the future, industry trends, and remuneration benchmarks needed to stay competitive.

5. Create an attractive workplace culture

Workplace culture drives job satisfaction, and happy employees are the best company advocates. It’s not enough to provide competitive compensation; attracting and keeping top talent involves creating a culture prioritising a work-life balance, providing meaningful work, and discussing career advancement.

If unsure of the appropriate remuneration for the role, the Robert Half Salary Guide is a good first step; it’s comprehensive, providing a starting point of the latest industry benchmarks and market insights.

Addressing the shortage of talent

While the skills shortage for data talent is a challenge for many Chinese companies, it’s also a great opportunity for companies to create a uniquely specialised team through taking a closer look at their existing talent pool, and innovating their recruitment and retention programs.

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