Timely and effective use of data provides a significant competitive advantage in today’s society. Manufacturing, retail, healthcare, agriculture and other sectors are using data-driven insights to respond to changes in markets, improve decision-making and operate more efficiently.
The growth of the internet and connected devices is making it easier for companies, organizations and government agencies of all sizes to access and capitalize on this data for the benefit of all. But many groups are not able to take advantage because they lack the skilled staff and resources needed. There are several challenges in filling the workforce gap between academia and industry. Often, the data collected by organizations are simply not useful, or the data analytics skills needed to use the data are unavailable.
The U.S. National Science Foundation is helping tackle this problem, supporting programs designed to help students add data science expertise to their skillset while also helping community-based and nonprofit organizations take advantage of the data they possess. The Data Science Corps program, or DSC — a component of NSF’s Harnessing the Data Revolution Big Idea — works with the academic community to bring students and local organizations together to use available data to solve problems. This will address challenges in the community and transform data science education to develop a 21st-century data-capable and diverse workforce.