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המכללה האקדמית בית ברל > English > About Us > News > Newsletter > November 2021 Newsletter > Meeting the Surging Demand for Data Analysts

Meeting the Surging Demand for Data Analysts

As a pioneer in training educators, Beit Berl is once again taking its place as an innovative institution with its fingers on the pulse of Israeli society.

Prof. Oded PotchterThe new Data Analysis track, headed by Prof. Oded Potchter, focuses on collecting and analyzing different types of big data using advanced statistical methods; and learning to present the data in a clear and concise manner. "Decision makers in every field rely on data analysis to set policies," Prof. Potchter explains. "One example is Covid-19, where data analysis is constantly used to map the virus's development, assess risks and treatments, and determine the most effective policy approach. Another example is the climate crisis: we use data analysis to quantify damage, how it affects different parts of the world, and how to battle the phenomenon. Today there are vast amounts of data available, and they must be processed efficiently," he elaborates. Long before the field became popular, Prof. Potchter focused on big data and data analysis in the context of his academic work in meteorology and climate change.

Data analysis, often referred to as the "profession of the 21st century," is becoming an increasingly crucial tool for decision makers in national and local government, as well as in the financial, health and industrial sectors. Recognizing it as an emerging field all over the world, Israeli high schools have recently started offering data analysis to help meet the intensifying demand for data experts in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and elsewhere. An acute shortage of teachers qualified to teach this field prompted Beit Berl to open a new track in the 2021-22 academic year.

Participants in the new Data Analysis program come with an undergraduate or graduate degree in a relevant field to earn teaching certification to teach in Israel's high schools.  They  can choose between a two-year track as part of M.Teach – Beit Berl's unique Master's degree for training educators with strong academic capabilities – or a one-year teaching certification track.

The program's first cohort includes many participants who plan to teach Data Analysis in high schools as a second career. In fact, approximately half of them recently retired from the army after serving for over 25 years in technological fields. Two hold PhD degrees and six have Master's degrees in various fields.

Half of the group already works as high school teachers in other disciplines and is now interested in preparing students for Bagrut (matriculation) exams in Data Analysis. Although an official Bagrut track was introduced in high schools in 2018, so far it has been taught mainly by Math and Statistics teachers who have no formal background in data sciences. As a result of the high demand for teachers in this field, students in the new program who already have teaching certificates began teaching in the classroom from the first semester of their studies, under the supervision of Beit Berl pedagogic experts.

"The new program is taught in a creative way. It relies heavily on computers, and students are out in the field, collecting and analyzing data in real time," says Prof. Potchter. There is no doubt that the demand for this innovative program will continue to grow as the "Start-Up Nation" generates increasing demand for data professionals.

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