IT skills in 2013: What's really in demand?

IT skills in 2013: What's really in demand?

Summary: Big data, cloud and good old C# are among the skills that employers are looking for this year.


Mainstream IT skills are still very much in demand in 2013, according to new research, but if you want to make yourself even more employable, it won't hurt to brush up on your big-data expertise.

According UK government body E-skills, the top technical skills demanded by employers over the past year include classics such as Windows, SQL, .Net, C#, Java, Oracle, JavaScript and HTML. 

More specifically, it identifies a number of areas where demand has been rising for more than two years. These include skills based around popular mobile operating systems such as Android and Apple iOS. 

Expertise with CSS3 (used to control the style and layout of web pages) and HTML5 are also considered important. 

Meanwhile, there is increasing demand for IT professionals with expertise of RESTful (Representational State Transfer), an architectural style that is used to design web services. 

Skills around MongoDB, a scalable open-source NoSQL database, are also becoming more desirable.

Finally, E-skills said that PowerShell, which is used to write scripts that automate Windows tasks, are becoming increasingly popular, while Microsoft Certified IT Professionals are also in demand.

Mainstream skills

"The high volume and most popular skills are still the mainstream development languages such as C#, ASP.Net and PHP," John Lynes, director at IT recruitment company Ashdown Group, told ZDNet. He added that this demand is unlikely to change as the majority of companies have business applications that are dependent on these skills.

But there are also technologies that are rapidly being adopted that may cause an initial spike in demand for new skills, at least until they become mainstream, he said. 

"The high volume and most popular skills are still the mainstream development languages such as C#, ASP.Net and PHP" — John Lynes, Ashdown Group

Lynes said that the area of big data is becoming more important as businesses seek to benefit from the vast amounts of information they are collecting.

"This area has a number of relatively niche technologies associated with it, with NoSQL databases such as MongoDB being popular," he said. 

E-skills UK research for SAS found that job vacancies for big data staff have grown by 43 percent over the past year. According to E-skills, the key 'technical skills' demanded from candidates for big data-related positions are: Oracle, Java, SQL, noSQL, Linux, MySQL, Hadoop, Unix, Python and SQL server.

Jamie Bowler, marketing director at recruitment specialist the IT Job Board, told ZDNet the skills seeing the biggest growth in demand are cloud computing, mobile app development, server virtualisation and HTML5. Meanwhile, demand for PHP and Flash is shrinking, he said. 

Cloud is another area where skills are in short supply, according to research by the IT Job Board (PDF). Skills around Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services are the most in demand but a large proportion of job descriptions tend to request general 'cloud' skills instead of focusing on one specific platform.

As a result IT workers should focus on understanding the infrastructure and service propositions rather than a particular technology, the research said.

Topics: IT Employment, United Kingdom, Tech Industry

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • Funny,..

    I'm surprised that the top spots are all Microsoft related technologies

    I would have thought (especially for Europe) that it would lien toward more open source technologies.
  • Good Article

    I have heard it for several years that there were shortage of IT skills. But never being able to find out which of these skills are needed. This site is great for giving me up to date information. May I request that we tell each other where we can learn these skills. I am unemployed and have thought about the idea of doing programming on and off for a while, so I was delighted to find where I started yesterday to learn HTML5 for free online.

    Thanks to Sam for the information
  • A couple years ago,

    people were saying the college kiddies studying for degrees and certs w/ .NET technologies would be wasting their time.

    Depends on the company in question, but it never hurts to know many languages... but always hone in on one or two languages in particular.
  • Good old c#?

    What are you - 12? C# 1.0 specs were January 2002.
    • 2002

      Was 11 years ago. He didn't mention the good classic C++ or the goof antique C. In computer terms 11 years ago was a long time ago (14 generations? Or just 4?) Windows XP was released in 2001. CPUs were single core and just breaking the GHz barrier and the GB RAM barrier. Ahhh the good ole days when upgrading a computer after a year brought noticeable results with more than double the performance and analysts were wondering when WinXP would drive out Win95/98/ME market share.
  • Consider Telecommunications, not just Vanilla IT

    What most people dont realise is that Telecommunications for the most part has almost been completely absorbed into the IT sector.

    Its an area of employment (in australia and the UK at least) that is always screaming for IT staff but they just dont want to come into the field. If you want a secure and well paid job in IT from Tier 2 tech support through to Network Engineering, consider Telco.

    My 5c.
  • The data scientist

    This might be the sexiest job in 2013 and beyond.
  • Bridging the Developer Skill Gap

    There is no doubt that finding skills gap solutions will continue to be an issue for IT this year. This research is a good overview of some of the main problems, but neglects key technologies that, when organisations experience associated skills deficiencies, are often seen as key contributory factors in IT debt, the cost of keeping core IT systems up to date.

    For example, access to critical business development skills such as COBOL, CICS, JCL and others remains difficult to locate, recruit and retain, yet market demand for these skills remains high. These established programming languages are not commonly taught today, so an unwelcome gap is expanding between the senior programmers and the newly graduated, who are learning newer languages. The loss of expertise as these experienced programmers retire will lead to increased costs, as inexperienced developers spend more time trying to deal with their so-called legacy applications.

    COBOL, CICS, JCL and other ‘classic’ skills not mentioned in this research will still be in demand in 2013 and beyond. It is essential that steps are taken to bridge the skills gap between old and new developers, unifying them through education, process and technology.
    Ed Airey
    • yes last century tech skills can be hard to find

      They present opportunities for aged IT professionals but not the place to be if you under 50. No they are not coming back.