Top 10 In-Demand Skills for IT & How L&D Can Help

A learning and development (L&D) team provides developers with the required budget and motivation to learn new skills or to improve existing skills. But what skills should you learn as a developer? This article explores ten in-demand skills for IT professionals and how your L&D department can help.

1. Big Data Analysis

On a daily basis, organizations produce an ever-increasing amount of structured and unstructured data that they have to capture and process. On top of that, companies have to shift to data-driven decision-making to remain competitive and remove processes that rely on gut-feeling or flaky data. If an organization relies on guess-work to make crucial decisions, it will likely fall behind its competitors.

As a big data engineer, you can help an organization manage its data and drive better decisions. If you want to pursue a career in big data, you need the following skills:

  • Basic programming skills to clean or prepare data
  • Experience with data warehousing tools, such as MySQL, Cassandra, HDFS, or DB2
  • Basic understanding of data analytics or statistics
  • Good understanding of data processing technologies, such as Apache Spark, MapReduce, or Hadoop

2. Data Visualization

Some people prefer to manage data, but it’s also important to be able to visualize data. Good visualizations help an organization get better insights from their data than looking at raw data does. A visualization can reveal patterns or trends that are hard to spot when looking at raw data. Therefore, data visualization is an essential skill to improve decision-making. As a data visualization expert, you can help drive results for your organization. For instance, you can support them in predicting sales revenue and what trends impact it.

As a data visualization engineer, you need programming skills to manage data and query databases for the information you need. On top of that, you need to become proficient with data visualization tools. You must acquire tools and skills to create visualizations that make it easy for your audience to understand the data and draw conclusions.

3. Application Security (AppSec)

The security industry becomes more important year over year as the number of web applications grows. Moreover, the number of data breaches and security-related issues rises as well. For that reason, there’s a high demand for application security professionals (AppSec).

As an AppSec professional, you require strong programming skills to dive deep into the application’s code to uncover security issues or solve them. Besides that, it’s important that you understand the most common application security risks for web applications. A great starting point is the Open Web Application Security Project(OWASP), which publishes a yearly top 10 list of web application security risks. A great AppSec engineer also needs to accurately estimate the impact and risk of each security issue for their business. This information is vital for the development team to prioritize AppSec issues.

4. Robotic Process Automation

First of all, what is robotic process automation (RPA)? As Bernard Marr & Co. explains, “A company can use RPA tools to communicate with other digital systems, capture data, retrieve information, process a transaction and more. Consider RPA as robots that are programmed to complete specific business processes automatically.”

A 2020 survey by Deloitte about RPA showed that 53% of respondents had started to implement some form of RPA. This percentage is expected to grow to 72% by 2020. Big industry players like UiPath provide large organizations with a complete solution to automate all kinds of repetitive tasks.

Vital skills for an RPA developer are strong problem-solving and analytical skills. You’ll need to understand business processes and analyze them to find ways to automate them. RPA developers need some coding skills, as RPA development involves scripting and reading data from databases.

5. Product Management

Product management has always been an in-demand skill, and the demand for product managers continues to grow rapidly as more and more organizations opt for a more digital path. A product manager requires a mix of different skills. They need to understand business goals and how to align with stakeholders, map business value against product features, and coordinate products themselves. In other words, a product manager needs a strong analytic mindset and excellent communication skills to interface with all involved stakeholders.

6. Blockchain Development

The blockchain space has gained a lot of attention in 2021 as many institutional players started investing in Bitcoin. On top of that, key financial players like PayPal support cryptocurrencies. Blockchain can not only reinvent the way we do finance but change many other industries using its tamper-proof technology. For instance, storing medical records or on-chain registration of domain name ownership. Therefore, a lot of companies started looking at the possibilities of blockchain technology. We see a boom in demand for software engineers who have experience with blockchain technology, especially Ethereum development using the popular smart contract language Solidity.

7. Developer Advocacy

A developer advocate, also referred to as a technical evangelist or developer relations specialist, is someone who represents a technical product. You can compare the developer advocate with a sales representative. But rather than sell a product, a developer advocate tries to boost product adoption by managing relations with developers, creating guides and other educational resources to explain the technical aspects, and capturing user feedback for the product team.

In other words, a developer advocate should have strong communication, writing, and marketing skills. On top of that, you’ll need software development skills to boost a technical product’s adoption.

8. Machine Learning Engineering

Many backend software engineers seek to gain skills in machine learning when looking for a new challenge. It’s a trending skill because organizations believe it creates new business opportunities.

However, the journey to becoming a machine learning engineer isn’t easy. Machine learning involves a lot of mathematics, like linear algebra, probability, statistics, and multivariate calculus. If you don’t like mathematics, don’t chase a machine learning career. Furthermore, it’s fundamental that you understand data structures and algorithms. Most machine learning engineers use Python because it offers popular machine learning packages such as NumPy, Pandas, and TensorFlow.

9. Low-code Developer

The low-code development trend has picked up steam in 2021. But what is it? Mendix.com explains that “Low-code is a visual approach to software development. Low-code abstracts and automates every step of the application lifecycle to enable rapid delivery of a variety of software solutions. It breaks the traditional silos of business and IT to promote continuous collaboration.” Most often, low-code solutions provide a drag-and-drop interface to create pipelines of automated actions.

The increased demand for software solutions has propelled the low-code industry because it can fill demand gaps for software engineers. Many use cases don’t require a complete software solution. For instance, you can use a tool like Airtable as your customer database and use different low-code solutions to automatically read data from Airtable and send customized emails to clients. In short, the goal is that anyone can build a completely automated solution without relying on software developers. Many organizations look for this skill as it can be useful for various roles, especially for marketing roles.

10. User Experience Design

Many organizations offer similar online solutions. For that reason, the best way to differentiate themselves is to hide the underlying complexity of their applications and offer an intuitive interface that users can easily learn. Moreover, an excellent user interface (UI) improves the user experience. It’s one of the key elements to drive product adoption. Therefore, most companies rely on UX designers to create a compelling and easy-to-use interface.

How Can Your Learning and Development Team Help?

A learning and development team assists developers in their learning journey. Most often, organizations provide a learning budget for each developer, which they can use for books, training, or courses. They want to make sure that developers can continue to improve their existing skills and learn new skills. Improving and learning new skills is not only important for developers, but also for organizations to remain competitive.

An L&D team can be a strategic element. For instance, they can focus on pushing new technologies to become innovation-focused and outsmart competitors. They can also focus on boosting productivity by scheduling in-house training sessions that teach productivity skills to developers.

In short, an L&D team drives knowledge and makes strategic decisions about your organization’s future.

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Michael Mulders
Michael Mulders