Python, Java, Linux and SQL: These are the hot tech skills employers are looking for

Programming languages continue to dominate jobs specs, with employers keen to build up their tech teams and deliver on expanding digital programmes.
Written by Owen Hughes, Senior Editor

Developers, cybersecurity specialists and other skilled tech professionals are proving particularly elusive for hiring managers, largely as a result of the ramped-up demand for software and IT solutions prompted by the pandemic.

The latest Tech Jobs Report by recruitment agency Dice sheds light on exactly where this demand lies in the latter part of 2021. In Q3, job listings in the tech industry suggest that organizations are on the lookout for technology professionals "who understand the core concepts of software development and project management" and possess technical skills in Linux, as well as programming languages Java, Python and SQL.

According to Dice, demand for SQL in Q3 2021 increased by 5% compared to the second quarter of this year. It was the second most in-demand tech skill, beaten only by Project Management – a broader competency that has become critical for businesses leading large digitisation efforts, or delivering specific programmes of work.

SEE: What is an IT project manager? Everything you need to know about project management and where it goes next

SQL – or Structured Query Language – might not carry the same flashy reputation as headline-stealing Python or the seemingly omnipotent Java, but there's a reason it remains near the very top of the list of in-demand technical skills. SQL is still used by organizations to manage the datasets they hold across their various business units – like sales and HR, for example – meaning the programming language is critical to enabling programmers to work with businesses' data assets.

Generalist programming languages also remain in high demand – Java and Python in particular.

Java is widely used in mobile app development, and the spike in demand for digital services prompted by the pandemic will have made Java developers even more valuable to businesses. Java was the third most sought-after tech skill, based on the number of times it appeared in job postings, increasing by 3% compared to Q2 2021.

Python, meanwhile, continues to grow in popularity within data science and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Both of these areas are seeing increased interest as organizations embark on digital transformation initiatives centred on capturing and making sense of the vast reams of customer data that are becoming available to them. Python was the third most valuable tech skill for businesses when it came to hiring in Q3, though demand only inched up by 1% compared to Q2.

Dice notes that both Java and Python are "likely to remain in extreme demand for quite some time." That said, there does appear to be a suggestion that demand for some skills and competencies has tapered off more recently.

Linux, for example, still sits within the top 10 in-demand tech skills within Dice's findings, though this fell by 1% compared to Q2 2021. Information Systems, Oracle, Information Security, Data Management and System Administration were among the other skills to see a dip in demand.

Dice said these trends could largely be reflective of what the recruiter called "a stunning burst" of hiring activity early in 2021. "As with occupations, employer hunger for certain skills seems to have plateaued (and even declined slightly) on a quarter-over-quarter basis," the report read.

"Employers have been very public about their issues with securing the right kind of talent to fill open roles; there's clearly demand for technologists with particular skills, but perhaps not quite the same level as when businesses were first opening again," it said.

SEE: Programming languages: Python is on the verge of another big step forward

Dice's Q3 Tech Job Report also offered insight into the specific software platforms to have seen a growth in interest amongst hiring companies. Docker Software, for instance, saw its appearance in tech job postings increase by 31% between Q2 and Q3 2021, followed by Microsoft Azure (12%) and Git, which saw a 10% increase.

This reflects the accelerated shift towards the cloud, Dice said: again, largely instigated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Technologies like Docker, Azure and Git "have an enormous impact on the web and cloud," meaning workers who are proficient in these platforms are likely always going to find themselves with strong employment prospects. Tableau, data analysis and change management are also seeing a spike in demand – all of which are "used by the managers who are guiding [cloud and web] projects to completion."

Looking forward, machine learning and data science are likely to become mission-critical for organizations that want to turn their datasets into new revenue streams and ways of gleaning insight into customer behaviour. "Success in everything from customer service to supply chain management could eventually hinge on effective application of machine learning and data science," said Dice.

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