Dell Gives Students Free Analytics Tool as Data Science Market Blooms

Making Statistica free is Dell’s response to the shortage of analytics experts in the workforce.

Hot on the heels of its acquisition of EMC, Dell is making strides into higher education analytics with its latest announcement.

The computer manufacturer that's now positioned as a technology giant recently released the Dell Statistica Free Academic Program, a free version of its Statistica analytics software, in an effort to "boost interest and preparedness for data analytics careers," according to a news release.

Along with the software that powers Statistica, users will be granted free access to support materials, textbooks, instructional videos and experts in the STEM community. The program can be downloaded via OnTheHub.

Statistica was created to make analytics engaging for higher education students, with the goal of drawing more talent to a field with a growing appetite for experts; the workforce demand in analytics is outpacing the number of experts available in the job market. In recognition of a nationwide shortage of data scientists, Dell made the software free.

“Today’s organizations, including institutions of higher education, depend on advanced technologies in security, data analytics and mobility to stay ahead of student and faculty needs. At the same time, they realize that students who gain knowledge and expertise in these technologies learn critical career-enhancing skills,” says Jon Phillips, managing director for Dell Worldwide Education Strategy.

A 2011 McKinsey study predicted that by 2018, the U.S. could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 analytics experts as well as 1.5 million “managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of Big Data to make effective decisions.” This workforce shortfall is in line with the overall IT workforce shortage foretold by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which projected that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million openings, but only 400,000 computer science graduates with the necessary skills to fill the positions.

Of course, Dell isn’t the only company that’s building tools that address the shortage in the analytics workforce; Adobe has its own analytics solution and even hosts an annual Analytics Challenge, pitting students against real-world data challenges faced by today's top businesses.

A team of graduate students from Brigham Young University took top prize in November, earning $15,000 along with an experience sure to expand their marketability when they enter the job market.

Analytics students leave higher education with a wide range of employment options, says Adobe Public Relations Senior Manager Sarah Duckett.

"More and more, companies must have these positions filled by the best of the best, because these positions are going to make or break companies. They've become the thing that's going to get people over the finish line, in terms of business," she says.

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Dec 11 2015

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