Which IT Skills Will Be Most Critical In 2017? Here’s a Forecast

Which IT Skills Will Be Most Critical In 2017? Here’s a Forecast

As we enter the New Year, let’s take a quick look at the skill sets that will be crucial for the IT industry in 2017. When it comes to staffing IT teams, spending on staff augmentation and managed services is expected to rise. Survey results indicate that companies are increasingly adopting the managed services model as a compromise between the challenges of staffing in-house and the loss of control with a fully outsourced model. When it comes to professional IT services, the most critical skills IT leaders expect to need are programmers and developers, networking specialists, project managers and software engineers. What’s more, these skills along with security top the list of most difficult to find.

Our expectations for 2017

Moving into 2017, IT leaders believe programmers and developers (42 percent), project managers (32 percent), networking (32 percent) and software engineers (30 percent) will be the most essential IT roles in the industry.

Year-over-Year trend comparison

Programmers and developers prevail as the most critical skill sets year over year, with more than 40 percent of IT leaders consistently putting them in the top rankings. Software engineers have also maintained an almost permanent presence. Quality assurance (QA) and testing roles have nearly quadrupled from 5 percent to 20 percent as compared to last year. We can conclude that, as organizations increasingly see applications as mission-critical and are maturing their application stacks, the need for QA specialists is growing. Interestingly, project managers have held steady in the top three rankings since 2015, yet a closer look at the numbers reveals fewer IT leaders require these roles to get IT done. Additionally, IT managers have become less critical to IT leaders’ achieving their goals. In 2017 only 24 percent of IT leaders listed the IT manager role as one of the most important—10 percent fewer than in 2016 and only half the number of survey respondents who felt that way just two years ago.

More expectations for this year

Programming and development talent are expected to be the most difficult-to-find skills this year—as well as the most critical for achieving IT leaders’ goals. Networking and security skills hold the second and third most difficult-to-fill positions this year, according to 29 percent and 28 percent of IT leaders, respectively. Despite rank order, the percentage of IT leaders who feel this way has declined since last year, with networking down 8 percent and security down 17 percent.

Observations based on the previous years

Although really talented programmers and developers continue a long-term trend of being the most challenging to find, the percentage of IT leaders who feel this way has declined by less than 25 percent in the last year. The growing decentralization of technology means organizations require a wider variety of talent and capabilities—leading to a dispersal of skill shortages—and functions outside IT must fill their own tech-related positions.

Interestingly, mobile has moved from a No. 11 position in 2015 and 2016 to the No. 15 spot in 2017. This might be explained by the increasing maturity of mobile initiatives as well as the extension of mobile outside of IT. The criticality of software engineer support in IT has increased but studies show the level of difficulty in finding these IT professionals continues a year-over-year decline, falling to the No. 5 most difficult from No. 2 in 2015.

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