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A new survey by Tableau and Forrester Research shows that data skills are increasingly vital, yet training lags. Eighty-two percent of decision-makers surveyed expect basic data literacy from employees in every department — including product, IT, HR and operations. And expectations are only increasing. By 2025, close to 70% of employees are expected to use data heavily in their job, up from 40% in 2018.

However, while business leaders and employees agree that data skills are increasingly essential, awareness doesn’t translate to data training investments. Only 39% of organizations make data training available to all employees, with the onus to train people usually falling to department heads or team levels. Meanwhile, nearly three-fourths of decision-makers believe employees should strengthen their data skills through ad-hoc, on-the-job knowledge, typically from coworkers or trial-and-error.

While the global data literacy skills gap is clear, so is the opportunity. As companies rapidly transition to digital-first models, data literacy — people’s ability to understand and work with data to the appropriate degree — can be a stepping stone or stumbling block.

Even small training investments boost business performance, employee retention and innovation. Upskilling initiatives, formal and informal, produce clear benefits for employees and businesses alike, including improved performance, customer and employee satisfaction and employee retention.

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Across the board, employers highly value data-skilled employees — viewing them as making better and faster decisions while being more productive and innovative. Employees agree: 83% believe they make better decisions and 82% make faster decisions when they use data. Furthermore, nearly 80% of employees surveyed say they’re more likely to stay at a company that sufficiently trains them with the data skills they need.

Forrester surveyed more than 2,000 executives, decision-makers and individual contributors in ten countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S. Respondents work at global companies with 500+ employees.

Read the full report by Tableau and Forrester Research.

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