As the pace of change in IT skills demand continues to accelerate, sophisticated software and technical knowledge will also continue to advance into traditionally “non-IT” roles. This “migration” of IT skills creates a number of challenges for organizations and IT directors alike.
First, technical literacy has become a roadblock for digital transformation initiatives. Organizations increasingly realize that their heavy investment in data analytics, cloud computing, and other modern technology does not provide the anticipated ROI if “non-IT” parts of the business do not understand how data can be leveraged to drive efficiency and innovation.
Second, organizations lack the ability to identify which technical skills are most in-demand in the organization, distill their list of in-demand skills into measurable learning outcomes, and introduce skills to employees in a way that satisfies prerequisite knowledge.
Our advice? In the spirit of playoff season, IT directors and Learning Experience and Design (LXD) teams should take a page from the NHL playbook and “skate where the puck is going”. Here are the top 5 in-demand IT skills we’ve detected through industry data and first-hand observation:
1. Data Literacy
Decades ago, it was possible to walk into a business with weak “computer literacy” and learn on the job. Today, you would be rejected out of hand without a working knowledge of computer programs and software. With more and more non-IT job postings incorporating words like data and analytics, it’s only a matter of time before data literacy becomes as commonplace as computer literacy.
As businesses continue to collect and query more data, employees must be capable of working effectively with that data and the IT team to turn information into decisive action. Data literacy is the ability to read, understand, create, and communicate data as information. From employees who are involved in collecting or entering data to those who need to leverage data to make decisions in both real-time operations and forward-looking strategy, data literacy is for all levels of the organization. To determine where your organization stands on the data literacy scale, ask yourself:
- How many people in the organization are familiar enough with statistics and bias to create and improve data processes?
- How many leaders can effectively create business cases with accurate and relevant data?
- How many employees can accurately explain the inputs and outputs of their systems or processes and how they relate to adjacent processes?
- How many employees understand what the possibilities are with advanced data analytics, machine learning, and AI so that they can more effectively collaborate with technical data professionals in the organization?
If you frequently answer “not many”, it’s time to start thinking about IT upskilling to improve data literacy rates.
2. Data Analytics
Data Analysis, Structured Query Language (SQL), and Statistics are among the most in-demand IT skills in the country. Over the last 12 months, these skills have accounted for over 500,000 job postings (Burning Glass), and projected growth is 21.5% over the next decade. Not only are skilled professionals difficult to find, but many organizations are structuring their operations such that IT collects and stores the data while other business sectors are responsible for analyzing the data. This means that building dashboards and writing queries and transformations is moving downstream from IT to business units like marketing, finance, and operations. Because many of these employees lack a technical background, it’s important to first lay a foundation of general data skills that can be leveraged towards specific tools such as Tableau, PowerBI, and Qlik.
3. Data Engineering & Machine Learning
When it comes to data engineering and machine learning, Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) is the name of the game. The vast amounts of data organizations are collecting from internal and external sources need to be collected, cleansed, and stored on a variety of platforms. Being able to work with things like document (NoSQL) databases, relational databases, APIs, and other sources with languages and tools such as Python and Data Bricks is a key technical capability for organizations that are serious about digital transformation.
Once all the data is collected, the next step is to start mining the data for insights to help your organization deliver more relevant, timely, personalized, and innovative products and services.
4. Cloud Computing
Everything is (and has been for some time) moving to the cloud. Many companies do not host any of their own infrastructures. The demand for talent with the skills to design and implement applications and processes on cloud systems like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is on the rise. The good news? With a small investment of time and effort in IT upskilling, existing developers can transition into cloud skills. The bad news? Certifications put a bullseye on your employees’ backs for competing recruiters to target.
5. Full Stack Development
Back when I started the Software Guild in 2013, I used to have prospective learners ask about OO languages like Java and C# and whether they would still be in demand when the new shiny was a platform called Ruby on Rails. My response was to chuckle and state that Java and C# are the COBOL of our time. (COBOL developers are still in demand and being paid high wages due to lack of labor supply).
The Truth of IT
All organizations across every industry must learn to accept and embrace two unavoidable truths:
- Change is accelerating, which necessitates continuous learning and development.
- There simply is not enough available labor to fill all positions from outside the organization.
In other words, if your organization is to stay at the top of its game by acquiring in-demand IT skills, it needs to look within for promising candidates that satisfy prerequisite knowledge and develop a skills training program for IT upskilling and reskilling existing talent.
If you are interested in running learning programs that check all the boxes of quality, outcomes, and hands-on assessments, let’s talk about IT. Get In touch with a member of our team