Transformation and tenacity
The IT industry has shown a remarkable quality to survive and thrive over the last three years, encompassing an era of the Covid pandemic and extraordinary economic instability. The rapid digital transformation across all sectors and industries has been a defining trend of recent economic times. A McKinsey survey of global executives from earlier this year reported that companies have accelerated the digitalisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and internal operations by three to four years. This change has been spearheaded by the tech industry and smart hiring of IT profiles. What lies ahead for the IT industry, and which of these profiles are now most in-demand?
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
CompTIA – an IT industry trade association – reports that 86% of CEOs consider AI to be mainstream technology in their office. In 2021, Gartner identified four trends that would drive short-term AI innovation over the next five years. These are:
- demonstrating the responsible use of AI;
- a shift from big data to small and wide data approaches;
- operationalization of AI platforms, or the governance and life-cycle management of AI models;
- ensuring efficiency of resources.
AI is making tangible differences in sectors not traditionally affiliated with tech. The use of chatbots in customer service, speech recognition and voice search, face recognition, and the implementation of algorithms in many popular apps are all indicative of the basic familiarity we now have with AI. The career paths within this field are numerous – data analysis, user experience, research, software engineer – and there is a wide expanse of possible sectors to work in. Several AI-related jobs featured in LinkedIn’s ‘Jobs on the rise’ 2022 list of the profiles growing quickest in demand, including machine learning engineer and user experience (UX) researcher.
The same LinkedIn list brings up ‘Back End Developer’ as one of the most rapidly-growing IT profiles. This profile employs many of the fundamental coding skills needed for web development and has a high percentage of remote workers. This follows the recent surge in interest for full stack developer roles – developers who can work on both client and server software (i.e the front end and back end). The advantage of this type of talent acquisition is the service of an employee who has mastery of multiple skills and can assist at different stages of a project depending on what is required. Adaptability is the name of the game and a skilled full-stack developer is a very valuable commodity.
The high demand for cybersecurity skills has only accelerated in recent years. With this demand there has also been a shift in expectations for high-level cybersecurity roles in particular. A chief information security officer (CISO) is expected to have a strong understanding of the context in which they work and that includes industry knowledge and company culture. The list of sectors that are in need of cybersecurity professionals is endless.
Of the various profiles that occupy this particular skill, the leading IT industry magazine CIO highlights the significance of information security analysts to ensure enterprise privacy and security. It is the responsibility of information security analysts to design and implement security solutions as well as to have the ability to monitor and anticipate future risks. The role is more holistic and all-encompassing than ever before.
Data science is a complex field and rests on fundamental skills in analysis, mathematics and data engineering. The defining feature of this field is the collection, analysis and interpretation of data and while it has always been prominent within IT, the most in-demand profiles of 2022 brings us back to Artificial Intelligence. Of many possible (and well-salaried) career paths in Artificial Intelligence, data is well-represented in the list, whether as an engineer, analyst or researcher.
Cloud computing is a wide umbrella term that can be broken down into three categories: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). The most important thing to know is that it has become increasingly essential with the widespread adoption of remote working during Covid. The rise has been exponential. Gartner predicts that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow to reach almost $600 billion by 2023.
Cloud computing is set apart from the other skills in this list by having fewer specific job titles. It is often viewed as a skill that can be evolved or integrated into existing roles. While many companies have not built cloud-specific job titles, it is an increasingly essential and desirable skill from junior to senior level for delivery consultants, administrators and engineers. Technical people with cloud computing skills also have the opportunity to develop their soft skills and fit in business development roles.
An industry leader’s perspective
“According to the European Commission, over 70% of businesses have said a lack of staff with adequate digital skills is an obstacle to investment. At the same time, the number of IT specialists in the European Union grew by 50.5% from 2012 to 2021 – that is almost eight times as high as the increase for total employment.
There is clearly an enormous gap to fill with regards to IT profiles. The EU’s ‘Digital Decade’ strategy aims to achieve 20 million employed IT specialists across Europe by the year 2030, with the additional aim of decreasing male gender predominance in tech. This is important to consider when hiring for IT profiles across Europe.
Companies that are competing to attract the best IT candidates offer a mix of environmental advantages (flexible working to full remote and other benefits). Salary has always been an important factor in the final decision of candidates but isn’t necessarily the most significant one. However as the economy recovered in 2022, even the most stable employees have considered moving for better wages – some have been able to find a 50 to 60% increase in one change.
The market is divided into two parts – the first, VC-backed companies who have the financial muscle to fight the wage war and attract top-tier talent, and the second, the other businesses that can attract lower-tier talent and need to be creative and patient to invest in people with skill gaps and a willingness to grow. This will require greater time investment and skills training to develop a new class of IT specialists.“
Research carried out by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics ranks Computer Science in the top 10 fields of study with the highest employment rates; students of software and application development and multimedia engineering have even higher chances of gainful employment. This is a similar story across Europe and indeed globally. The digitalisation accelerated by the pandemic has created a huge window of opportunity for candidates to apply for roles that would have been unreachable previously, or for easy access to training resources to acquire and develop skills to fit any of the most desirable roles.
Despite this opportunity, there is a well-publicised shortage of IT talent. It is important to acknowledge the necessity for employees to build STEAM skills alongside the skills required for high-demand IT profiles, and the need for HR leaders to find solutions to their talent gaps.
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