Open source and Linux skills are still in demand in a dark economy

Despite the doom-and-gloom headlines about tech jobs, the Linux Foundation's latest survey says companies are still hiring savvy Linux and open source staffers.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
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There might be lots of news stories about job losses in tech right now but research suggests there are still plenty of openings in open source and Linux to go around.

As Hilary Carter, SVP of research and communications at the Linux Foundation, said in her keynote speech at Open Source Summit North America in Vancouver, Canada: "In spite of what the headlines are saying, the facts are 57% of organizations are adding workers this year."

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Carter was quoting figures from the Linux Foundation's latest job survey, which was released at the event.

Other research also points to brighter signs in tech employment trends. CompTIA's recent analysis of the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data suggests the tech unemployment rate climbed by just 2.3% in April. In fact, more organizations plan to increase their technical staff levels rather than decrease. 

The demand for skilled tech talent remains strong, particularly in fast-developing areas, such as cloud and containers, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

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So, what do these all areas of technology have in common? The answer is they're all heavily dependent on open source and Linux technologies.

It's important to recognise that layoffs are happening, including at big firms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, and IBM. Even Red Hat, the most well-known Linux company, had the first significant layoffs in its 30-year history

When it comes to who's losing their jobs, the Linux Foundation found senior technical roles are seeing the biggest cuts.  

Also: 6 ways to ace a job interview, according to these business leaders

New hiring is focused on developers and IT managers. Companies are also spending more on training. As many as 70% of organizations surveyed by the Linux Foundation provide training opportunities for their existing technical staff on new technologies. That investment in training is being driven by the fact that there aren't enough experts in hot technologies, such as Kubernetes and generative AI, to go around. 

If your company isn't interested in helping you learn new skills, that's a red flag. The Linux Foundation found investing in upskilling is vital for companies looking to keep up with emerging technologies and remain competitive in the market. No matter how great a job is, if the company goes down, your job will fall with it. 

In their search for the right people, many companies are also looking to certification and pre-employment testing to verify candidate skills. So, while you might think certifications are pointless, research suggests 80% of HR professionals rely on certifications to make hiring decisions

Also: How to flawlessly answer the 'Tell me about yourself' interview question

Looking further ahead, it appears that taking specific technical classes and getting certified is a really smart move to help you land your next tech job. Interestingly, a college degree is no longer seen as such a huge benefit. Businesses responding to the Linux Foundation's research felt upskilling (91%) and certifications (77%) are more important than a university education (58%) when it comes to addressing technology needs.

So, as Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, said at the conference: "It's been a tough time in tech. We've seen rounds of layoffs in the name of cost-cutting. But open source is countercyclical to these trends. The Linux Foundation itself, for instance, had its best first quarter ever. So, I'm seeing some hope where there's darkness." 

Let's hope that's an indication there's a bright light coming at the end of what's been a dark tunnel for many IT professionals.

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