There’s no dispute: An IT talent war is afoot. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of global technology leaders surveyed for IEEE’s Impact of Technology in 2022 and Beyond survey say recruiting technologists and filling open tech positions in the year ahead will be challenging.
However, both the needs of the enterprise and the capabilities of the tech talent marketplace are a mixed bag. There are red-hot and lukewarm skills and a variety of enterprise technology requirements. Determining how best to match supply and demand has become as much art as science. This year, creating “micro career paths aligned to individual aspirations will be important,” says Yugal Joshi, a partner at Dallas, Texas-based strategic IT consultancy and research firm Everest Group.
Understanding what capabilities are likely to be increasing in value and which are likely to decrease is also important, for both hiring managers and job candidates. Following are five flourishing ‒ and four fading ‒ IT skills for 2022.
[ Are you up to speed on 2022's biggest tech trends? Read also: 10 tech predictions for 2022. ]
Flourishing: Product management
“As more CIOs move to agile development and away from a ‘projects’ approach, they need people with a blend of technology, business, and leadership skills to bring high impact technology products to market, whether internal or external to the company,” says Martha Heller, CEO of Heller Search Associates.
Flourishing: Cloud and container technology
“One skillset that will be in high demand going into 2022 is cloud computing, specifically configuration, deployment, security, and troubleshooting for cloud services,” says Kelsey Person, senior project manager at technology staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network.
Organizations dramatically accelerated and expanded their adoption of cloud infrastructure in reaction to the challenges of the pandemic and will continue to do so in pursuit of digital transformation initiatives which often go hand-in-hand with the cloud. The 2021 Open Source Jobs Report from the Linux Foundation found that cloud-native skills are now more in demand than any other technical discipline. Nearly half (46 percent) of hiring managers are seeking cloud and container technology skills, making this the skill set most in-demand by hiring managers, followed by the Linux category, for the second year in a row.
In addition to capabilities across the major public cloud infrastructure platforms, skills around Kubernetes and cloud DevOps services will also witness more demand, says Ashwin Venkatesan, vice president, enterprise technology and services at Everest Group.
Flourishing: Leading change
This is “the number-one hot skill” CIOs are talking about right now, says Dan Roberts, CEO of Ouellette & Associates, consulting and host of the CIO Whisperers podcast. It’s also one of the “power skills” identified by Ouellette & Associates in its own research, which separates high-performing technology leaders from the rest. Although many IT leaders and managers understand how to manage people, managing change requires a different arsenal of capabilities, including an understanding of change dynamics, experience with change leadership frameworks and tools, the ability to create a clear roadmap for change as well as structure and processes to sustain it, and the ability to manage the organizational risks, human challenges, and success factors of change initiatives.
“With so many evolving areas, there needs to be a dedicated focus on assessing change across all projects and programs, rather than a siloed approach within each area,” says Melanie Kalmar, corporate vice president, CIO and chief digital officer at Dow.
Right now, too many changes are hitting certain front-line roles at the same time. Better orchestration will lead to better prioritization of projects.
[ Hear more from Dow CIO Melanie Kalmar. Read also: Dow CIO: Digital transformation demands rethinking talent strategy. ]
Flourishing: Software engineering
“The demand for software engineers reached an all-time high in 2021 on the heels of the pandemic, and there are no signs of it letting up heading into 2022. In fact, demand for high-quality engineers will likely continue to increase in 2022 as cutting-edge tools like AI/ML, and automation become table-stakes features for growing businesses,” says Christine Spang, cofounder and CTO of Nylas.
Flourishing: Cybersecurity mindsets for all
“As companies move forward on their digital transformation journey, with deep/wide convergence in functional areas such as R&D, manufacturing, engineering, supply chain and logistics – combined with cloud adoption – there are new and evolving threat vectors and attack surfaces,” says Kalmar. “The risk of insider threats continues to grow. Global trade becomes even more complicated as countries continue to enact their cyber security and data privacy laws and resultant data sovereignty aspects.”
The appropriate response to the increased risk and complexity is adopting a “security by design” culture, Kalmar says. “And it will require upskilling and re-skilling around cloud, networks, threat hunting, private/public/government sector collaboration, privacy, and counterintelligence.”
Fading: Single technology expertise
As business success will depend on a confluence of digital technologies, polytech capabilities and leadership will be the name of the game. CIOs will be looking for people who can orchestrate a complex technology and business process landscape and understand trends such as edge computing and AI.
Notes La Salle's Person: “The IT outlook is rapidly advancing, and employers are seeking skills in combinations that align with their future needs. IT professionals looking to stay competitive should avoid becoming overly specialized in niche products or technologies.”
Fading: STEM degrees always required
“We see more and more companies hiring people based on the skills that they have, not based on a degree,” says Jim Chilton, CIO of education technology company Cengage Group, noting that his IT organization has gone degree-blind for many of its roles. “This requirement will continue to become more optional for many jobs and industries.”
Fading: Traditional PMO leadership
With the rise of agile integrated IT delivery, the skills and processes associated with traditional project management will become increasingly less valuable, Heller says. “Companies that move to a product model have a decreased need for traditional PMOs,” says Heller.
Fading: Tech-only contributors
“Even the biggest enterprise IT organizations have started to realize that the soft skills are in fact the most difficult. You do need technical skills, yes, but you also need great communication skills, empathy, and ‒ especially for leaders ‒ the ability to inspire and motivate your staff,” says Lorna Mitchell, head of developer relations at Aiven.
Chilton of Cengage says management and leadership skills are important at all levels. “People must be ready to lead not by title but by practice; in this competitive environment, we need people who are ready to lead their teams,” he says. And with technical skills themselves changing rapidly, the most important skill is the same, says Mitchell. “Everyone working in technology needs to be a fast learner and always be one step ahead of the work that’s about to land on their desk.”
[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]