Creating Pathways for Big Data Careers

To address the urgent and rapidly growing need for workers proficient in the use of Big Data the Oceans of Data Institute (ODI) of Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) will work with four community colleges to create a career pathway model for Big Data careers. A panel of Big Data subject matter experts representing a variety of professional fields will identify the entry, middle and high level Big Data skills, knowledge and behaviors that are needed in the workplace.  These skills, knowledge and behaviors will be organized and aligned to Big Data jobs. The pathway model will be co-designed by ODI and partners Bunker Hill Community College (MA), Normandale Community College (MN), Johnson County Community College (KS) and Sinclair Community College (OH). Together these partners will develop and document pathways to Big Data careers via a system of stackable credentials that identify associate’s degrees, certificates, and four-year programs leading to employment. Each college will adapt the pathway model to fit the Big Data labor demand of its geographic region. Faculty involved in designing and piloting the pathway model will create personalized professional development plans that build their capacity to deliver instruction in Big Data skills. Bunker Hill Community College will leverage its relationship with ATE Center BATEC (Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections), which will coordinate and deliver professional development that meets the needs identified by faculty. 

The project’s products include an occupational Profile of the Data Practitioner, which articulates the Big Data skills, knowledge and behaviors that are expected by industry and Tools for Building a Big Data Career Path, which was created to assist schools looking to design and implement career pathways in big data.

The profile will be paired with rubrics that describe what proficient performance of the Big Data middle skills “look like.”  The profile and performance rubrics will provide an assessment framework that will assist instructors in evaluating student proficiency in Big Data skills. These materials, along with the stackable credentials, will be able to guide other community colleges seeking to design Big Data programs and/ or to develop Big Data courses, thereby strengthening their position as MSBDES workforce providers.  ODI and the partner colleges will disseminate project products, as well as lessons learned, to a national audience of community colleges, minority-serving institutions, tribal colleges, and to business/industry representatives hiring for positions that require skills in working with Big Data.

In summer 2023, the project completed a Data Science Study Tour in Europe. The goal of the study tour was to develop an understanding of how European data science programs partner with industry to provide work-based learning (WBL) opportunities for their students. Participants will produce a report that describes lessons learned from European models of WBL with recommendations for adapting them to the United States context.  


This project is funded by the National Science Foundation, grant # 1501927. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



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