There's no question the IT workforce is poised for some serious changes over the next year. Employers will seek out game-changing skills and expertise, and many organizations will adapt to shifting needs with new hiring strategies. Diversity in the workplace will remain front and center as job applicants come from all over the world, many with the IT expertise critical to moving innovation forward. If one thing is certain when it comes to both skills and workplace dynamic, the power is with the people. As recruiters, we have the ability to select from the best and brightest.
The 2016 Workforce: More Diverse and More Flexible
The tech industry is focused on encouraging more women and people of different ethnicities to join the workforce. Expect the definition of diversity to expand to include age and experience. As you're recruiting for your organization or a customer this year, keep in mind that companies are still looking for wide ranges of expertise and skill sets. Don't overlook the advantages of having more seasoned employees work alongside those who are just entering the workforce. The tech industry has a tendency to hire workers fresh out of college, but hiring those of all ages will ensure that both new ideas and well-tested tactics and tools don't get lost.
Still, there are many benefits to hiring and working with candidates right out of some of the most prestigious technology learning institutes. We've seen new trends with the addition of Generation Z to the workforce, and they are bringing a dramatic new energy to the workplace environment. Expect Generation Z workers to fill the tech job pipeline, as trends show they're attracted to lucrative roles in STEM-related fields. The days of instant message and video conference might not be enough to excite them, though. Their craving for social media engagement compels them to use personal technology in professional settings, and they'll be attracted to employers that incorporate wearables and virtual reality into the workplace.
Can't hire full-time employees? Due to the agile, project-oriented nature of technology work and the sustained technical talent shortage, employers' demands for freelance and temporary workers will continue to increase rapidly. Keep a steady bank of agile employees (contractor, consultant, temporary, or freelance positions) on hand. This will enable access to specialized talent and skill sets that fit your company's precise needs and yield greater flexibility, economy, and efficiency from workforce investments. Research shows this employee segment could comprise as much as 50 percent of the workforce by 2019.
The In-Demand Skills of 2017
Whether your applicants are new or seasoned, full-time or contract workers, there are a few technical skills that will put some candidates above the rest:
First, we are seeing the line between cybersecurity practitioners and IT specialists begin to blur. In the near future, most IT staff will be required to have at least some expertise in cybersecurity. Experts now realize this is the only way to ensure that security is baked into networks and systems, rather than bolted on after the fact.
Additionally, mobile development experience (think applications, mobile and modern web capabilities) will be in high demand for many mid-market businesses reassessing their digital technologies and presences to remain competitive. After all, consumers and workers alike are on the go more than ever. Whether for consumer-facing mobile applications or for managing internal workforce processes and resources, mobile developers will become some of the hottest hires in 2017.
The IT field continues to boom with technological breakthroughs and innovation, including self-driving cars and RoboBees, and there's no sign of it slowing down. Emerging technologies, such as virtual reality and the internet of things (IoT), will mean more demand for IT workers with these specialties. Along with the advancement of IoT will come the need to secure these devices – still a conundrum for technologists and policymakers. Enterprises will need to be agile enough to respond to shifting technology trends, both in their own workplaces and for their customers.
The Robots Aren't Coming for Your Tech Jobs
We'd be remiss if we didn't tackle one of the biggest questions coming from many technologists in the field: Are robots taking over technology jobs? The short answer is "no"! The uptick in deploying automation tools across IT functions is a way to increase efficiency and to perfect processes. We expect enterprise-sized organizations to be the first to automate certain IT functions (e.g., cybersecurity, network monitoring), but automation won't eliminate the need for people in the workplace. Lower-level tasks might be automated, but human intelligence will still be needed for higher-level analysis and decision-making in IT environments.
Recruiters out pounding the pavement for these highly sought-after IT skills certainly have their work cut out for them. Be vigilant about tapping the agile workforce for positions that may be a good fit for a more flexible or temporary hire. Consider the benefits of staffing teams with a variety of experience levels. Hire people with a passion for innovating. Any new hire who comes in with the skills needed to propel the tech industry forward could be one of an organization's greatest assets. So power is in the people – and the recruiter!
Dino Grigorakakis is vice president of recruiting at Randstad Technologies.