A survey of data science students has revealed only 7 per cent were attracted to the £216 billion industry by salary alone.
The study, by the national innovation centre Data Lab, coincides with a conference being held in Edinburgh today aimed at showcasing career opportunities in the field of “big data”.
Data Talent Scotland, taking place at the Assembly Rooms, will feature speakers from the likes of Deloitte, NHS Scotland, Royal Bank of Scotland and TSB, as well as fashion start-up Mallzee and health informatics specialist Aridhia.
The “collider event”, hosted by Data Lab in partnership with recruitment firm MBN Solutions and youth entrepreneurship organisation WeAreTheFuture, will bring together more than 250 aspiring data scientists with employers and universities.
Data Lab’s survey found that lifestyle and the strength of the job market were key factors behind students’ desire to stay in Scotland after completing their studies. Of the 91 students polled, only 7 per cent were motivated by salary – with the remainder attracted to challenging roles that offer a good work-life balance and support through training.
Costi Perricos, lead partner for analytics and information management at Deloitte – which plans to create up to 70 jobs when it opens a digital studio in Edinburgh later this year – said: “It’s a hugely exciting time to be a data scientist.”
“We recognise the high calibre of talent in Scotland and we are keen to recruit for our new Deloitte Digital Studio and our wider consulting practice.”
Data Lab chief executive Gillian Docherty added: “It is very encouraging that so many of the individuals we surveyed want to stay in Scotland after they complete their studies but with around one third of those needing a visa to work here it is a reminder that we must provide practical support to help them navigate the system.
“Big data is worth £216bn to the UK, and Scotland is rapidly establishing itself as a centre of data science expertise. It is home to almost half of all of the UK’s data science Masters level programmes, with 17 courses available in 2016-17 across a range of sectors.”