Booming data analytics and AI exacerbating tech talent shortage: Survey

Nearly 77 per cent of data professionals in Canada believe that the shortage of tech talent will continue throughout 2024, a new survey by Toronto-based IT consultancy firm Adastra found.

This is mainly because of the accelerated adoption of data analytics and AI.

Two specific areas are impacted by the widening talent gap, the survey revealed: frontline workers with the capacity to work with new analytic tools, strategies and programs, and senior data analysts/data scientists who can coordinate these activities and continue to discover business insights.

“We have certainly observed a spike in data analytics activity across all verticals, leading to a growing backlog of both talent and project demand within IT departments”, said Rahim Hajee, North American chief executive officer, Adastra, in a release. “Along with the shortage of qualified talent, the challenge in many companies is converting legacy mindsets and synergizing processes. 

This, he added, is a process of  “citizen enablement through re-training, allowing more members of an organization to participate through a no-code or low-code software environment.”

The survey, in fact, revealed that 90 per cent of respondents believe data optimization allows employers to redeploy staff to more meaningful and productive work.

Hajee added that the democratization of data within any organization allows more people to be involved in the day-to-day analytics taking place and helps to reduce the backlog that may exist in one’s IT/analytics department.

Close to 62 per cent of respondents are using, for instance, Retrieval Augmented Generation (RAG), which enables companies to use proprietary information to enhance the customer and employee experience via chatbot.

“Most organizations have realized the importance of data to their functionality and bottom-line successes”, said Dmitry Krass, academic co-director, Master of Management Analytics program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. “It is not the number of trained people that is a problem, but rather the skills emphasized by the training. A data scientist without a strong focus on business and business processes cannot deliver value.”

The study shows that 76 per cent of Canadian respondents will be spending more on data analytics this year, notably as the push towards AI skyrockets. 

Accordingly, 87 per cent of respondents consider using data a competitive advantage, and as a result, 45 per cent believe more new jobs will be created in 2024.

Nick Kozlo, research director at Info-Tech Research Group, contended that IT leaders should remember that machines are not replacements for human talent, and conversely, humans should not be treated as machines.

He added, “The automation era demands a delicate balance in the workplace. IT leaders are increasingly required to integrate AI with human teams, balance remote and in-office work models, merge technical and soft skills, and ensure high productivity while maintaining employee wellbeing. Achieving this balance is crucial for both organizational success and team development.”

“As generative AI enters the workplace, organizations must not lose sight of its ultimate impact on the organization’s people and the skills that only people can bring to the workplace,” Info-Tech’s IT Talent Trends Report 2024 report highlighted.

The report also emphasized the need to optimize the new remote environment for human interactivity and collaboration. 

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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