Creating Pathways for Big Data Careers
The quantity of digital data created globally is growing exponentially, and workers in many professions need skills to organize and analyze the deluge of data that confronts them. To address the urgent need for workers who have "big data" skills, the Oceans of Data Institute (ODI) of the Education Development Center will work with four community colleges that are leaders in the area of big data, data science, and data analytics to create a career pathway model for big data careers, with special attention to the "middle skill" jobs that can be filled by graduates of community college programs. Subject matter experts representing a variety of professional fields will identify the entry-level, middle-level, and high-level big data skills, knowledge, and behaviors that are needed in the workplace, and these skills, knowledge, and behaviors will then be organized and aligned with big data jobs. ODI and partners Bunker Hill Community College (Massachusetts), Normandale Community College (Minnesota), Johnson County Community College (Kansas), and Sinclair Community College (Ohio) will work together to design the big data career pathway model. They will document pathways to these careers via a system of stackable credentials that identify associate degrees, certificates, and four-year programs leading to employment. Each college will adapt the pathway model to fit the big data labor demand in its geographic region. To build the capacity of faculty to teach big data skills, Bunker Hill Community College will leverage its relationship with the Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections (BATEC) center to deliver appropriate professional development for faculty. ODI and the partner colleges will disseminate the project's products to a national audience of community colleges (including minority serving institutions and tribal colleges) and business/industry representatives hiring for big data positions.
The methodology that the project team will use to define the "Middle-Skill Big Data-Enabled Specialist" (MSBDES) has been used successfully to define other emerging occupations, has been widely validated, and has been used internationally to identify the skills needed by front-line workers. The project's products will include an occupational profile of the MSBDES, which will articulate the big data skills, knowledge, and behaviors expected by industry. The profile will be paired with rubrics that describe proficient performance of the big data middle skills. The profile and performance rubrics will provide an assessment framework that will assist community college faculty in evaluating student proficiency. These materials, along with the stackable credentials, will guide other community colleges seeking to develop big data courses and programs.