“It’s a discipline in demand”: BEIS CDIO Karl Hoods on hiring data scientists in government
‘Future is bright for data scientists in public sector,’ says department’s IT leader
Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer
For several years, the role of a data scientist has been talked up as being essential for private sector organisations, but the public sector has also been making steps in this area.
Just this week, NHS Digital posted a job opportunity for a head of information analysis with a speciality in data science, and was offering up to £85k for the position.
According to Karl Hoods, the chief digital information officer (CDIO) at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the future for data scientists in the public sector is a bright one.
- BEIS on the hunt for digital and data director duo
- BEIS chief on revamping the department’s tech and rolling out the Industrial Strategy
- NHS Digital offering up to £85k for data science, business intelligence and visual analytics roles
“It’s a discipline in demand and with a relatively short supply it’s a candidate’s market when it comes to trying to attract the right people. It’s a fascinating space to be in with such great opportunities across many sectors,” he has told PublicTechnology.
Hoods believes that while there are many different descriptions of what a data scientist is, it is therefore an organisation’s duty to be clear on what it wants from the role.
“Sometimes you see job adverts for data scientists but what’s being asked for is quite a narrow set of skills and experience and looks more like a report writer or a database analyst than what I’d determine a data scientist,” he said.
“Technology has had a significant impact in this field, consider the data collected from the likes of wearables, IoT devices and autonomous vehicles and how that is and could be used to make decisions or improve services. This coupled with the availability of cloud services to make the infrastructure and tools more readily available gives organisations the opportunity to start or scale their journey more rapidly than in the past,” he added.
One of the key concerns among a public sector IT leaders is being able to attract data scientists to the organisation. After all, competition is fierce and it is highly unlikely that a department can offer the same pay package as a big technology company or bank. However, Hoods is optimistic about the government’s chances of recruiting the right type of personnel, as there are other motives for working within the public sector.
“While it's true that the public and not-for-profit sectors can't always compete with some private sector organisations when it comes to pay we are increasingly seeing candidates across a range of disciplines, not just data science, having a strong interest in relating what they do to having a tangible impact on society,” he said.
“The issue we have with many roles we struggle to recruit for is the supply and we need to think about how we inspire future generations to get interested in data science and related disciplines as well as be creative when it comes to filling the roles, whether that be through apprenticeships, partnerships with universities or developing learning pathways for existing staff.
“There is also the need to make others who aren't practitioners aware of the art of possible and it may well soon be a skill that every employee needs some awareness of to do their job,” he added.
Rounding up the Tories’ key pledges in the area of digital and data, including a new cybercrime force and tax incentives for investments in cloud computing
Examining the language of each party’s manifesto reveals significant differences in the amount and focus of proposals related to technology and data policy – as well as in the wider themes of each...
The free broadband plan has attracted attention, but the party has a number of other proposals for the use and regulation of technology. PublicTechnology rounds up the...
In an interview with the Civil Service World podcast, the former Cabinet Office minister discusses frustrations of attempts to push through digital and procurement transformation
To have the best chance of an effective response and a full recovery, organisations should have a robust incident response strategy in place, says BT
We hear from BT about why delivering a great customer experience depends on your network visibility
Organisations are increasingly having to replace their legacy voice infrastructure as traditional analogue and ISDN lines are being phased out. BT talk about how they can help the transition...
BT presents findings from cryptocurrency firm Gemini on how they're providing customers with direct connectivity thanks to the Radianz network