Open source jobs report: 3 hot skill areas now

How hard is it to recruit cloud, containers, and DevOps gurus? Just 19 percent of open source pros say they haven’t fielded a recruiter call during the past six months
694 readers like this.
Harvard Business Review How to Keep Your Top Talent CIO

In the IT job market right now, it pays to have open source skills. That’s the main takeaway from the seventh annual Open Source Jobs Report, conducted by The Linux Foundation and careers site Dice. Demand for experience and skills with open source platforms isn’t some overnight sensation, but it continues to grow more robust: 83 percent of hiring managers surveyed for the report said hiring open source talent was a priority this year, up from 76 percent last year.

[ Are you a DevOps job seeker or a hiring manager? Get our free resource: The Ultimate DevOps Hiring Guide. ]

For job seekers with open source chops, that means you’re in a strong position. And, increasingly, you know it: 55 percent of open source pros said they wouldn’t have trouble finding another job, and 87 percent indicated that knowing open source has advanced their career in some way.

For IT leaders and hiring managers, it’s a temperature check on what you’re up against in the competition for talent. FYI, the thermometer reads “scorching hot:” 87 percent of hiring managers said they encounter difficulties recruiting open source talent. That challenge has proven consistent during the last few years. 

Some of the report’s notable highlights:

  •  57 percent of hiring managers report that their organizations are actively contributing to open source projects, up from 50 percent last year
  •  That’s increasingly a recruiting and retention strategy: Nearly one in two hiring managers (48 percent) say their companies have decided to financially support or contribute code to open source projects in the hopes of attracting developers in those communities.

  • Recruiters are trying to poach open source talent. Only 19 percent of open source pros said they haven’t fielded a recruiter call during the past six months.

  • A growing number of employers are offering open source training and certifications as a talent retention and development strategy: 42 percent report doing so, up from 26 percent in 2016.

  • That same trend is reflected in the percentage of employers who say they’re willing to cover at least some of the costs of open source certifications: 55 percent are doing so this year, up from 34 percent in 2016.

Demand for open source talent is ultimately a reflection of how pervasive open source technologies have become in enterprise software, in particular. A recent Synopsys audit found open source components in 96 percent of common enterprise applications, and that open source accounted for 57 percent of proprietary codebases.

The numbers also reflect the ongoing impacts of three of the biggest intersecting trends in IT; each has open source DNA and each encompasses highly-coveted IT skill sets. We’re talking about containers, cloud and DevOps:

1. Containers

57 percent of hiring managers report seeking container-related skills.

Demand for containers expertise is soaring: In the Open Source Jobs Report, 57 percent of hiring managers report seeking container-related skills, more than double the 27 percent who were doing so last year.

Open source pros also ranked containers as the biggest growth area, knocking cloud to second place. (Take that as a sign of both the intense interest in and adoption of containers, but also of cloud’s maturity.)

Consider Kubernetes in this light: The jobs report is typically vendor- and platform-neutral (aside from its obvious interest in Linux) and so doesn’t mention Kubernetes or other container-related platforms by name. 

But Kubernetes, dubbed the highest-velocity project in open source history, is illustrative of some of the report’s broader themes. Kubernetes adoption tends to follow production usage of containers as companies realize the challenges of container management at scale, according to survey data from The New Stack; as that happens, organizations need IT pros who know Kubernetes.

So, if you’re on the hunt for people with containers and orchestration skills, becoming meaningfully engaged with the Kubernetes community seems like a sharp strategy, as does offering support for training and certifications.

[ Trying to explain Kubernetes to non-techies? Read How to explain Kubernetes in plain English ]

2. Cloud

Cloud might “only” be the second largest growth area in the report, but it’s still the skill category that will most affect IT hiring decisions this year.

In general, the report points to the deep relationship between cloud computing and hiring demand for open source skills, given that so many cloud and cloud-relevant technologies – containers among them – are steeped in Linux and other open source technologies.

Open source skills may be especially useful in hybrid cloud environments.

“Like open source itself, the hybrid cloud gives businesses greater flexibility and ability to adapt quickly if computing needs or costs change,” Art Zeile, president and CEO of DHI Group, Inc., Dice’s parent company. “Companies need highly-skilled tech professionals who are strategic and able to see the bigger picture for how a company can manage costs and deploy data.”

Zeile notes, too, that cloud isn’t just driving changes in IT environments and business models, but transforming traditional skills sets. He points to infrastructure expertise, and says it’s moving away from administrative skills to become more software-driven. In fact, Dice itself has made this kind of cloud transformation.

“The transition that we made in particular was one where our infrastructure is defined less by multiple vendors and specific administrative skills to one where infrastructure is defined as code,” Zeile tells us. “So for specific skills Dice has seen an emphasis on using code to interact with APIs along with needing developers and architects that understand how that code interacts in production environments.”

[ Are you dealing with cloud security doubters? Get our new resource: Hybrid cloud security: 5 questions skeptics will ask. ]

3. DevOps

Open source pros surveyed in the jobs report ranked DevOps skills as most in demand at 46 percent, followed by cloud (44 percent). This likely speaks to how deeply DevOps culture is intertwined with cloud, containers, digital transformation, and the evolution of IT from a service-and-support shop to a strategic business unit.

"DevOps as a movement is creating a need for people with stronger skills in systems thinking."

“DevOps as a movement is creating a need for people with stronger skills in systems thinking – how our applications behave in production environments from the supporting technology to development processes,” Zeile says. “All of these skills work together to inform how companies think about their tech stack and team structure.”

Zeile points the popularity of DevOps engineers on the job market right now. Like or loathe the DevOps engineer title, it’s evidence of the demand for this basket of skills, including areas such as automation, systems engineering, and others that commonly cross paths with open source.

[ Read also: DevOps jobs: How to win that role ]

Moreover, Zeile notes, demand for DevOps talent (and the open source skills they often bring) isn’t a matter of trend-chasing but business value.

“Just as the hybrid cloud creates more opportunities to be smarter with hosting data, strong DevOps professionals provide a level of efficiency to organizations as they carry out important projects which closely align with business objectives,” Zeile says. “These skills are more important than ever and companies across industries are recruiting talented DevOps professionals to drive projects forward and maintain a competitive edge.”

[  Are you a DevOps job seeker or hiring manager? Get our free resource: The Ultimate DevOps Hiring Guide. ]

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.


Common DevOps misconception ...

The outcome of this collaboration is a person who has both operation and development skills. That is a DevOps engineer. #facepalm

DevOps is not a profession, DevOps is not a person, DevOps is a culture!!!