16. 03. 2017.

A team of Croatian data scientists won the first place at the European Big Data Hackathon

Croatian team of data scientists won the first place at the first European Big Data Hackathon – a competition organized by Eurostat and the European Commission.

A team of data scientists comprising of experts from the IT company IN2data and the Algebra University College, all appointed by the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, won the first place at the first European Big Data Hackathon – a competition organized by Eurostat and the European Commission. More than twenty national teams participated in the hackathon.

The juries (both those evaluating technology and those evaluating key performance indicators) were thrilled by the software solution designed by the Croatian team. The solution – an Internet application (which our experts developed in just two days) – relies on results of statistical surveys and publicly available data to provide insights into characteristics of the labor market. The application displays the diversity of skills of job seekers in different European regions and variations in demand for labor in the EU.

Leo Mršić, Ph.D., Igor Kaluđer, M.sc - IN2data data scientists and lecturers in Digital Marketing and MBA programs at the Algebra University College, and Dr. Robert Kopal - vice-dean for research and development at the Algebra University College, lead the winning team.

Their application, called EU Jobs & Skills Explorer, successfully solves the following problem: job seekers at EU markets need to have specific skillsets. In order to reduce mismatch between jobs needed and skills available at the EU labor market, the application makes use of the available data in order to provide an informed design of appropriate policies. It provides a series of projections on skills that will be needed in future in certain European geographic areas. To make things even more user-friendly, the application supports intelligent data visualization.

In preparation for the competition our team relied on a substantial amount of technical resources – they used databases containing more than 245 gigabytes of data and custom applications comprising of more than one billion lines of code. The conference participants were able to test the EU Jobs & Skills Explorer directly, using passwords the team generated specifically for the purpose of the evaluation.

The application relies on data from millions of job ads from the European Centre for Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), and from those published on the European Job Mobility portal – EURES. In addition, data from 4.7 million CVs was ingested from the said sources. The Croatian team also made use of data produced by various surveys - such as the Labor Force Survey (LFS), Survey of Adult Skills from PIAAC (The Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies) and others, as well as Eurostat regional data sets.

The data is standardized by using European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations register (ESCO). This level of pre-processing and processing ensures standardization that is needed for easy data integration and comparability at the EU level.

It is interesting to note that the Croatian team also used the results of the European Skills & Jobs Survey which, in combination with other macroeconomic data, allows comparison at a lower, territorial level, of the EU countries.

 This regional data provides insight into specifics of the EU labor market, which was one of the main objectives of the project task.

A special feature that greatly contributed to the victory of the Croatian team is the synergy between public, private and educational sectors – an excellent cooperation between Croatian Bureau of Statistics, IN2data and Algebra University College during preparation of team members and technology infrastructure.

Maja Pekeč, a coordinator of activities related to DIGICOM project and experts from the Croatian Bureau of Statistics, Mario Gavrić and Vesna Lipavić, actively participated in the preparatory stage. They also provided support for the Croatian team during the competition.

All members of the Croatian team are professionally engaged in developing big data solutions for various industries. For them, European Big Data Hackathon was a great opportunity to compare their skills and knowledge with the best European data scientists.

Big Data Hackathon competition was organized by the European Commission and Eurostat in order to collect and develop ideas that combine different data sources as possible substrates in solving specific societal challenges.

The competition, which was held for the first time, also had an interesting topic: skills, education and lifelong learning – an important element for further development of the economy of the European Union.

The European Commission will soon make a final decision on the applicability of the presented concepts and their use in official statistical analyses. This means that EU Jobs & Skills Explorer developed by the Croatian team could soon find the practical, real-world application.