The open source jobs are out there

The Linux Foundation finds open source jobs are growing ever more popular.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
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The tech unemployment rate reached 2.1% in May. That was a slight drop from April, but with 623,627 tech job openings, that's still a year-over-year increase of 52%. As good as that is, The Linux Foundation and the trusted learning platform edX's 10th Annual Open Source Jobs Report have found that for open source savvy job seekers, the market is even better than that.

But, how much better? According to MarketandMarket analysis, "The global open source services market size is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.2% [...] to reach USD 50.0 billion by 2026 from USD 21.7 billion in 2021."  

What does that mean for open-source job seekers? The report found that 73% of professionals reported it would be easy to find a new job. On the flip side, 93% of employers struggle to find skilled talent. 

So far, most open source professionals, 63%, reported they hadn't changed jobs in the past year. Of course, that also means one-in-three did leave their jobs. That left employers desperately trying to hold onto skilled staff. This may not be Great Resignation, but it's still making life miserable for human resources.

"Every business has struggled with recruiting and retaining talent this past year, and the open-source industry has been no different," said Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin. "Organizations that want to ensure they have the talent to meet their business goals need to not only differentiate themselves to attract that talent but also look at ways to close the skills gap by developing new and existing talent."

"There is a huge supply and demand gap," said Clyde Seepersad, the Linux Foundation's Senior Vice President & General Manager, Training & Certification. But, the job churn could have been even worse. Seepersad said employers have been more proactive. That's prevented some as some of the turnover that might otherwise have happened." 

What's keeping people from jumping ship is offering them "remote work. When you think of some of the high-cost locations in the San Francisco Bay area or Bangalore, it's very attractive to allow people to work from other locations in terms of their cost of living and that impact on their real earnings," said Seepersad.

Higher pay has also become very important. "Pay has also been a factor, but it might be number three, number four," said Seepersad. But, "It's clearly now number one." 

To be exact, the report found compensation has become the top differentiating factor: Two-in-three open-source professionals said a higher salary would deter them from leaving a job. At the same time, since flex time and remote work are becoming standard, financial incentives are more important than ever. Note that flex time and working from home are now becoming the norm. Without those, don't expect to keep top open-source talent.

Mind you; qualified open-source talent is getting harder to find than ever: The vast majority of employers, 93%, report difficulty finding the right people with the right skills. 

This trend is not going away. Almost half, 46%, of employers are planning to increase their open-source hiring in the next six months.

Another way to keep people is to train the ones you already have. Seepersad said, in the past, "Company hiring managers would just flat out tell you, we don't really invest in training because that's just going to encourage folks to go out there and find another job. [...] That mindset has really changed." That's because "if you don't try to encourage and develop growth, employees are going to go somewhere else. Yes, pay has become more important. But if  you invest in their career, in the  relationship, you can create loyalty with your workforce."

A related issue to that is that certifications are more important than ever. A whopping 90%of  employers say they'll pay for employees to obtain certifications, and 81% of professionals plan to add certifications. 69% of employers are more likely to hire an open-source professional with a certification. 

As a side effect, prior experience is becoming less important with talent shortages. If you have a certification that shows you have the right skills, it's easier now to get a job.

What skills? Looking ahead, it's all about clouds and containers. 69% of employers are looking for people who know their way around clouds, Docker, and Kubernetes. Pure  Linux skills also remain in high demand as well with 61% of hiring managers. That's no surprise since under the cloud and containers lies Linux.

And, I'm sure it also won't come as any shock that security concerns are mounting: Cybersecurity skills have the fourth biggest impact on hiring decisions, reported by 40% of employers, trailing only cloud, Linux, and DevOps

DevOps is also growing ever more important. Seepersad observed, "There used to be these clear walls between the developer crew and the implementation crew. These are just crumbling under the weight of the new expectations."

Security training is also becoming vitally important. They're simply nothing like enough security smarts. there. Employees know this. 77% of already employed open-source pros say they'd benefit from additional security training. They're right. They would.

If you had to pick one skill to focus on to get into the open-source job market, Seepersad has an interesting choice: Git, the distributed version control system. 

Why? Because now everyone uses Git. "The goal is not necessarily to say that you've made 1000 accepted pulls from a Git repository," said Seepersad. "It's to get used to this work to get yourself into the dynamic of often working collaboratively together on code. And everybody is a developer now. It used to be that folks who were more on the engineering deployment security side would hesitate to look more closely at the code because the idea was in the realm of the developers. And the same was true with developers, right in terms of things like scalability. But that's broken down with DevOps, and now everybody is collectively responsible for the code. As you learn what code is and how it's managed, opportunities come to contribute to it. And, with that, you can get yourself into a really good spot."

And, with all small steps, you'll be one giant leap closer to having a great open-source career.

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