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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 11;115(50):12630-12637. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1804247115.

Skill discrepancies between research, education, and jobs reveal the critical need to supply soft skills for the data economy.

Author information

School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47408;
Educational Technology/Media Centre, Dresden University of Technology, 01062 Dresden, Germany.
School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47408.
Department of Information Management, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, 210094 Nanjing, China.
Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, MA 02110.
School of Journalism and Communication, Nanjing University, 210008 Nanjing, China.
Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637.
Knowledge Lab, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637.
Tencent Research Institute, 100080 Beijing, China.
Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637;
Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM 87501.


Rapid research progress in science and technology (S&T) and continuously shifting workforce needs exert pressure on each other and on the educational and training systems that link them. Higher education institutions aim to equip new generations of students with skills and expertise relevant to workforce participation for decades to come, but their offerings sometimes misalign with commercial needs and new techniques forged at the frontiers of research. Here, we analyze and visualize the dynamic skill (mis-)alignment between academic push, industry pull, and educational offerings, paying special attention to the rapidly emerging areas of data science and data engineering (DS/DE). The visualizations and computational models presented here can help key decision makers understand the evolving structure of skills so that they can craft educational programs that serve workforce needs. Our study uses millions of publications, course syllabi, and job advertisements published between 2010 and 2016. We show how courses mediate between research and jobs. We also discover responsiveness in the academic, educational, and industrial system in how skill demands from industry are as likely to drive skill attention in research as the converse. Finally, we reveal the increasing importance of uniquely human skills, such as communication, negotiation, and persuasion. These skills are currently underexamined in research and undersupplied through education for the labor market. In an increasingly data-driven economy, the demand for "soft" social skills, like teamwork and communication, increase with greater demand for "hard" technical skills and tools.


data mining; job market; market gap analysis; science of science; visualization

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