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Data Analyst & LIT Lecturer Warns that Ireland needs more than 20,000 Highly Skilled Data Analysts as the World Faces a Data Tsunami

There is a data tsunami on the way and Ireland needs to create 21,000 data jobs by 2020 just to weather the onslaught.

That is the stark warning from Data Analyst & Cyber Security expert Dr Liam Noonan, who is a programme leader at Limerick Institute of Technology’s Department Of Information Technology.

Everything and everyone is now producing data - an estimated one thousand times more data than they produced just five years ago.

Inter County hurlers with GPS systems on their backs and hurleys in their hands are pucking out 100 pieces of data per second, or more than 420,000 units of data per match. Everything from the fridge to the phone, car to credit card, is collecting data and storing it in the cloud.

As a result of this growing amount of data, the demand for a cyber security workforce is expected to rise to 6 million globally this year. Currently the shortfall is projected at 1.5 million worldwide.

And is not just in the area of cybersecurity that there is a workforce demand. According to the World Economic Forum, Data Analysts are expected to be in the “Top Ten Jobs in Demand” by 2020.

There is a significant skills shortage in this profession in Ireland with over an 8 % growth in demand for more data analysts. Ireland therefore needs to create 21,000 jobs in data by 2020.

Speaking about the need for more highly skilled data analysts, Dr Noonan, who is also Programme Leader of Data Analytics & Cyber Security at LIT, said it is vital that this new generation of data analysts are provided with the proper skillset to navigate ever expanding Big Data.

“Working with data is an ever evolving but interesting occupation. When understood properly, data from the world around us can help us make better decisions for people, sports teams, communities and industry.

“At LIT we have developed a degree that will give the students the skills to turn data into information, and information into insights. These valuable insights can then be applied by users as diverse as sports’ managers and coaches, scientists and industry leaders, governments and state agencies to make informed decisions,” he said.

The Data Analytics & Cyber Security degree at LIT will enrol its first students this September, and become part of the CAO process from next year.

Dr Noonan, who has decades of experience working with data and computer programming, said the training of new data analysts must go beyond the collection and analysis of data.

“Our new generation of programmers need to be able to write software that can extract useful information from the ever growing amount of data available. But their skill set cannot stop there. They must also be able to store data safely, ensure it remains secure and that it stands up to the legislation of different jurisdictions - including GDPR.”

“It is critically important that they understand how to protect such data. Up until very recently most data was stored locally on a hard drive or an in-house server. Now, the majority of our data is stored in the cloud. Add to this the complication of the cloud’s server location and you have questions around the data projection rules of differing jurisdictions to consider,” added Dr Noonan.​

Dr Liam Noonan Dr Liam Noonan
Dr Liam Noonan​​​

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