Is a college degree enough for a Data Science career? - Great Learning

Is a college degree enough for a Data Science career?

According to a recent McKinsey report, over 96% of professionals agree that upskilling is ‘very important’ or ‘important’. There’s a dire need for employees to update themselves with the right skills that will make them relevant to the changing workforce. Since current skills and the way the industry operates is becoming obsolete, it’s evident that skills being taught in computer science college programs will also become obsolete by the time students graduate. There might be opportunities in companies still using legacy systems, but those companies will have no competitive advantage in the modern tech landscape.

A steady stream of undergraduates with great theoretical knowledge, who need to be trained in industry-relevant skills has led to a dearth of qualified professionals. There are over 50,000 AI and Data Science jobs that are lying vacant in India due to the lack of talent to fill them.

An important contributor to the dearth of qualified data science professionals is that lack of data science in college curriculums. They teach how computers function and how data is stored and processed, but there’s nothing about how to analyse data and derive insights. Even the select few colleges that do teach data science offer only surface-level theory which does not offer students employable skills that they can leverage to crack their first interviews.

This puts students who take the effort to equip themselves with data science skills at an advantage. This is evident when we surveyed salaries from TCS employees who were hired as freshers. We found that they were offered an average of 3.5 LPA. Compare that with freshers who had knowledge of Data Science, and were offered an average salary of 6 LPA. These students either had done in-depth projects in Data Science or had a done a course which showed their expertise.

The market reality makes this the right time for students to upskill themselves with a data science program. Once people are better aware of this demand-supply gap, more students will flock to these courses. That’s why the first-mover advantage is crucial in this scenario. Choosing the right program now is crucial to achieving their career dreams. 

Choosing the right program

Here are a few guidelines on choosing a program that is right for you:

1. Industry Context

There are far too many online programs that teach concepts without any industry-context, which makes it difficult for freshers to crack interviews and to thrive in their jobs. Students must take care to choose a program addresses proper industry applications.

2.The right learning format

Online-only courses or MOOCs have a completion rate of 7-10%. Active learning which is mentor-driven or classroom courses might be a better bet to guarantee learning outcomes – in this case, getting a job.

3.Hands-on experience

Learning theory is a great start – most college students are used to this mode of learning. But to really understand the subject and to be able to apply the concepts you’ve learnt, hands-on experience in the form of labs and project is of paramount importance.

4.Career guidance

Getting the right career guidance puts you at an advantage for choosing the right job that makes sense for you. Embarking on a new career can seem daunting, but with the right guidance, you can really go places. If the course that you choose has a career guidance component, you’ll be in a better position to get the career that you are looking for.

To know more about Great Learning’s Data Science and Engineering Program, just click here.

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