Western Australia is expecting to need nearly 3,000 more data science professionals in the coming decade, according to a new report from Faethm and KPMG.

Commissioned by the WA Data Science Innovation Hub (WADSIH), the Data Science in Western Australia report estimates that the data science family already employs around 32,000 full-time employees in WA – a number that is only expected to increase as organisations flag the high value of data.

The report classifies the ‘data science family’ as 116 different roles with skills similar to specialist data scientists.

Of the different streams of data science, narrow AI – semi-autonomous tools that perform specific tasks using machine learning – is tipped to be the biggest data science job creator in the coming years with the report expecting predictive analytics to account for more than a third of the incoming jobs in WA.

WA Innovation and ICT Minister, Dave Kelly, said he was glad to see data science help underpin the state’s economy.

“Data science skills are already providing tremendous benefit to WA, whether predicting the spread of disease, distilling insights from the enormous quantities of space data coming from radio astronomy projects in the mid-west or the ongoing technological advancements in our thriving mining industry,” Kelly said.

“These are clear jobs of the future, and I encourage students interested in STEM to consider data science for their long-term career.”

Researchers interviewed Western Australian organisations for the report with nearly all of the organisations saying data science was “very important” to their future.

One respondent said they considered “users of data and data visualisation tools into the future being as frequent and well-accessed as the current users of PowerPoint” while another said data science will be “more and more important as our executives continue to buy in”.

But many stakeholders echoed a statement that there was “not enough” data scientists and they were often having to look internationally when searching for senior talent.

Those who fostered their own talent internally or through relationships with universities found it difficult to hold onto high quality data scientists.

“Organisations reported following individuals through their university career, only to lose them to technology companies oversees at the end of their university career,” the report said.

“Often this was due to the reputation of the industry itself or the location of work.”

To maintain locally developed data science talent, the report recommends industry work with WADSIH on developing their own data science capability framework.

It also wants to see universities and TAFEs incorporate basic data skills competencies across more streams.