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

Big data, cloud and good old C# are among the skills that employers are looking for this year.
Written by Sam Shead, Contributor

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.

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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.

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