Even though the tech sector has cut jobs, certain tech skills are in high demand and are not about to go away anytime soon.
In 2022, we witnessed a seismic shift in workplace dynamics. From talent shortages (a World Economic Forum report says 85 million jobs globally could go unfilled because of skills gaps) to the emergence of new AI/ML technologies (hello, ChatGPT!), all the way to evolved hybrid working … or totally remote … or even the latest: the four-day workweek. As if that weren’t enough, we’re now witnessing a massive wave of layoffs in tech that continues as we speak. Talk about whiplash.
Is anyone else ready for some smoother sailing?
The good news is with the right skills and training it is possible to ride uncertain economic waves. And, if you don’t have the right type of skills for a rapidly evolving economy, it may be time to look in the mirror and re-evaluate where you are headed and where you want to be.
Based on my experience as an executive for a global telecommunications company, here are four of the fastest-growing skill sets in the tech industry.
1) Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML)
No, this is not AI taking over a job. This is an engineer or product manager who knows how to leverage AI to enhance a company’s processes. There’s a vast gap in understanding of AI/ML, and those with this skillset are a hot commodity in the marketplace.
As AI tools like ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence chatbots have taken over headlines across industries, AI could be one of the defining technologies of the next decade. IT professionals in many roles will need to understand the concepts of AI/ML. For now, one of the reasons that AI is such an important skill to have is because of the diversity among tech fields that leverage it. Data communicators have AI tools, and cyber security professionals use AI, along with UX designers and digital marketers. Despite all the excitement, it’s still early – and AI will only continue to expand.
AI chat tools are creating new jobs. Take this excerpt from a recent Business Insider article about the new role of “prompt engineer,” one of the hottest jobs in tech: “Prompt engineers are experts in asking AI chatbots — which run on large language models — questions that can produce desired responses. Unlike traditional computer engineers who code, prompt engineers write prose to test AI systems for quirks.”
Machine learning (ML), on the other hand, is more akin to a subset of AI that helps computers learn from experience. It’s used in a variety of fields, from suggestion fields in retail to identifying fraudulent transactions in banking. But we’re also seeing it used in the medical field to detect diseases or predict someone’s emotional state via smartphone data.
One Forbes article noted that one of the most valuable skills you can have is the ability to spot opportunities to augment you or your organization’s human skillset with AI and put tools and platforms to work.
2) Programming and software development
Proficient programmers and developers tasked to design and maintain systems and applications will only continue to increase. And the need for this crucial role cuts across industries—from logistics and supply chain to retail to healthcare.
In mid-February, LinkedIn released a long list of skills employers prioritize when recruiting, posting jobs, and hiring on the networking site. The number one skill on that list is software development, “that companies need to build the products that we depend on in our personal and professional lives.”
Similarly, online job-skill learning company Coursera says that industries are turning toward technology to advance their business capabilities, and they need people skilled in developing, maintaining, and improving their technological systems. People who work in DevOps or software engineering build, monitor, and control an organization’s technology. Coursera listed software development as the second-highest earning skill to have.
And with the onset of tools like ChatGPT, someone who understands the concepts behind software development and who can leverage AI to gain even more efficiencies with coding will be even more in demand.
3) Cloud computing
There’s going to be an increased demand for professionals with the technical know-how to implement successful cloud strategies as cloud takes the center stage in the conversations of how to digitally transform organizations. Cloud computing skills show up more often than most skills in the market in LinkedIn’s survey of job posts, and it was listed among the site’s most coveted skills.
Cloud computing skills, especially now, as many enterprises are managing multi-cloud scenarios – such as configuration, deployment, security, management, and troubleshooting – are essential for IT professionals. This includes everything from end-user support for software as a service (SaaS) solutions to analyzing, managing, maintaining, and deploying cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to Computer World.
Cloud computing professionals need to understand how to weave multi-cloud environments into a single fabric. While there may be many different cloud components, the end user is a single app. To be able to deliver that app with any kind of reasonable quality of experience–and also any kind of security–companies need to know exactly where those workloads are at any time, how different parts of those fragmented workloads get from Cloud A to cloud B, and how that all gets brought together to deliver out that service. This involves a unique skill set, one that will continue to be in demand.
4) Project management.
The importance of project management in organizations can’t be overstated. When it’s done right, it helps every part of the business run more smoothly. It allows your team to focus on the work that matters, free from the distractions caused by tasks going off track or budgets spinning out of control.
As organizations build layers of technology into processes, there always needs to be a human worker who is orchestrating projects from point A to point Z. AI can’t do that yet … and it’s far away from having those capabilities.
You can consider “project management” to be a catch-all term for leadership, communication, planning, resilience, and organizational skills—all of which are frequently cited as valuable to employers, according to LinkedIn.
Many companies use an organizational structure in which different departments, teams, or team members all work on a singular product or project. A person who is skilled in coordinating efforts across each of those touchpoints is skilled in project management. These team members may be responsible for maintaining schedules, organizing budgets, and communicating with project stakeholders (or various parties interested or invested in the project outcomes).
Project management shows up in many careers and becomes especially important as you move into managerial positions, according to Coursera.
Project management skills can be applied across the board and make you better at your job regardless of the size of the projects you’re managing. Understanding project management methodologies, as well as learning how to manage the project lifecycle and communicate with stakeholders, will add efficiency and effectiveness to your work.
It is true that the tech sector has cut jobs in 2022 and will likely continue to do so in 2023. But it is also true that the skills above are in high demand and are not about to go away anytime soon. While one position may come to an end in a particular company needing to cut costs or restructure, having some of the tech skillsets most in-demand positions professionals to better ride waves of uncertainty in the marketplace. There is never a silver bullet that makes a job truly untouchable, but having the right skills means you will be in demand for years to come.