Across the world, there is a growing shortage of data science skills in businesses. According to the 2020 World Economic Forum, “As jobs are transformed by the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we need to reskill more than 1 billion people worldwide by 2030.” 

In South Africa, the unemployment situation is critical. According to a recent PWC report, the country’s failing education system has resulted in 8 out of 10 unemployed adults having some secondary schooling, including matric, and 1 in 10 unemployed people in South Africa having a tertiary qualification. This totals as many as 750,000 in 2022.

At the same time, ironically, there is a critical shortage of specific skills, which is holding back economic growth. Studies show that one particular skill shortage is in the broad sphere of data science, and four of the top 10 ‘future jobs’ in South Africa are specifically tech-oriented. These are cloud engineers, data scientists, development and IT operations engineers, and data engineers.

The conclusion reached in the PWC report is that upskilling workers (together with a solution to the electricity crisis and accelerating private sector investment) could be one of the most important drivers of GDP and job growth. It concludes, “Companies can help turn this crisis into an opportunity by upskilling their workers. Upskilling and workforce investment need to be anchored as a core business principle.”

Shaun Dippnall, co-founder of the ExploreAI Academy, explains, “ExploreAI Academy was established in 2017 with the aim of training young data scientists in a 12-month data science learnership. This programme continues successfully, but as the need for data science skills has grown, our focus has broadened to upskilling and reskilling people across all levels of businesses.”