Data training demand soars as businesses rush to reskill teams

New research has revealed how skills training priorities for businesses have changed before, during and after the pandemic. Circus Street has analysed the training priorities of 388 companies and 755,000 professionals over four years and has established that data expertise is now the most sought after skill – rising 376% since 2019.

In 2019, businesses favoured a range of marketing skills including performance, social media, mobile, as well as general ecommerce skills. A mix of training that had largely remained unchanged in previous years.  As the pandemic hit in 2020, customer experience and ecommerce skills soared in popularity as businesses were forced to acquire new expertise in response to lockdowns. 25% of training in 2020 was related to customer experience and ecommerce, falling to 8% in 2022.

2021 shows a clear shift to focus on digital transformation with 27% of courses taken focusing on these skills, up from 7% in 2020. Digital transformation training then drops to 13% in 2022 as data skills training has gained in popularity.

In 2019, just 9% of training was dedicated to data skills, before falling to 7% in 2021. However, at the end of 2022, four of the five most popular courses taken throughout the year were data related, accounting for 33% of all training. 2022 also saw renewed interest in agile project management training – up from 8% in 2021 to 14% in 2022.

Richard Townsend, CEO of QA – owners of Circus Street whose clients include Coca-Cola, Nike, GM, Pfizer, and Nestlé, said: “This data tells a clear story of how the pandemic forced big businesses to rapidly change the skills they required within their businesses. Before the pandemic there was a much wider mix of skills being acquired, that varied slightly year to year. We then see lockdowns causing a huge surge in ecommerce training and then, as many businesses realised they had not adequately digitalised their operations, a real push to acquire more digital transformation skills.

“There’s no denying that data skills are now the most sought after expertise from businesses right across the world. In 2019 it accounted for a small percentage of training, now over a third of all courses are data related. Interestingly, many of the training priorities before the pandemic have not reemerged. Mobile and social marketing are no longer priorities, and skills such as SEO are also declining in popularity. This could indicate that the pandemic may have had a permanent impact on business priorities.”

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024