Software developer jobs are growing again. But the top skills companies want are changing

Demand for software developers and cloud jobs starts to grow again. But businesses are looking for a different set of skills.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

A change in the types of tech skills most in demand reflects the new priorities for many businesses, with security, organisational change and cloud computing at the top of the list.

Skills that are in most demand from IT chiefs are cybersecurity, enterprise architecture, technical architecture, organisational change and cloud, according to research by tech recruiter Harvey Nash. By contrast, in last year's survey IT chiefs listed big data and analytics as the skills most in demand, followed by cybersecurity, enterprise architecture, technical architecture and DevOps.

Bev White, chief executive of Harvey Nash, said that sectors less affected by the coronavirus -- such as pharmaceuticals, logistics, healthcare and tech -- continue to create jobs.

SEE: Virtual hiring tips for job seekers and recruiters (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

White said the company's own research found that 82% of IT leaders in the UK expect their staff headcount to increase or stay the same, and said the tech sector has been more insulated from the impact of COVID-19 as it played a key role in helping businesses with the rapid shift to remote working.

"As a result, we have only seen the tech recruitment market slow for permanent positions, but even here, things are starting to pick-up again -- particularly for software developers, helpdesk advisors, cloud architects and cybersecurity specialists," she said.

Figures from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) last month have suggested that the number of companies looking to hire tech workers is increasing again, after falling sharply during the coronavirus lockdown, with job postings for web designers, programmers and software developers increasing. The REC said this was the result of companies trying to adapt to a changed market.

In the IT contractor market, Harvey Nash noted that demand has held up better throughout the pandemic, as companies have required quick access to specialists to help deliver digital projects.

According to the tech recruiter, the sectors most optimistic about recruiting tech professionals over the next 12 months include not-for-profit/charity, financial services, telecommunications, healthcare, and technology.

SEE: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

The broader economy continues to feel the shocks from the coronavirus pandemic, with the number of people in work dropping by 220,000 between April and June, according to the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS says more than one million people work in IT and telecoms in the UK, including around 330,000 programmers and software developers, 240,000 working in operations and user support, 100,100 IT and telecoms directors, 189,000 IT managers, 140,000 business analysts and architects, and 60,000 web designers. Roughly three million people work across the broader UK technology industry.

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