Data analytics: It’s not just a young person’s game

A conversation with Eric Bradlow, vice dean of analytics, Wharton School

For the past few years, there’s been a big demand for data analysts. Indeed reported in late 2018 that for every 1,000 job postings looking for data scientists there were 600 people looking for that job. In short, demand is outpacing supply, and in the words of this week’s guest on Work in Progress, “it is one of the jobs that is recession-proof.”

Eric Bradlow is the Vice Dean of Analytics for the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He says, simply, there is a data scientist shortage that is going to continue to grow.

“Every industry needs people that can learn how to ingest data and analyze data—help companies make business decisions through data. It’s a set of skills that you would think, ‘Wow, you hear all these people doing data science.’ No, there’s actually a shortage of people that can do data science.”

“So as data science becomes a deeper and even more rich field, I think even more companies are going to have need for data scientists.”

Bradlow says there is so much demand, there are so many routes to the job, and no age limitations.

“I’m not convinced that it’s something that you have to have a four-year full-time degree on. You can get our certificate in data science. A lot of companies offer this,” he tells me.

“I know many people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, that are starting to get into data science. So it’s not just a young person’s game. So to me it’s the future of many businesses. It’s seen as one of those, as I said, recession-proof types of opportunities, as long as the person is willing to take their skills and apply them to lots of different industries.”

Data Analytics and COVID-19

Those skills are playing a big role in understanding the spread of COVID-19 and in making decisions on how we should respond to the disease to prevent it from spreading further.

Bradlow says data analysts are helping us understand the spread rate, the rate at which people are showing symptoms, then serious complications, and then the death rate.

“Statistical models. Data analytics. They’re a decision-support tools. They’re not meant to replace decision makers. They’re meant to support decision makers…who are going to have to weigh, “Do you open up the economy? Do we each as individuals put ourselves under risk?”

One More Thing…

In addition to being the Vice Dean of Analytics at Wharton, Bradlow is also the co-host of the Wharton Moneyball podcast which looks at the sports as a game of numbers. Sports is made up of statistics. It is also a business. If you are a sports fan, stick around for the end of the podcast when Bradlow and I discuss what data analytics is telling us about when and how baseball and other sports can start up again.

You can listen to Work in Progress here, or find us wherever you find your podcasts.

Episode 132: Eric Bradlow, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Vice Dean of Analytics
Host: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch, Melissa Panzer, and Ramona Schindelheim
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts