​How sustainable are the tech industry’s hot jobs?

Peter Acheson explains the hype behind some of the most talked-about tech roles

There's a significant increase in ICT job vacancies, driven by growing investment among companies. Source: erik ERXON (Flickr)

There's a significant increase in ICT job vacancies, driven by growing investment among companies. Source: erik ERXON (Flickr)

2015 saw demand for ICT skills skyrocket, while the talent pool supply shrivelled in comparison. Australian companies are facing the increasingly complex task of finding high-quality tech talent in a very competitive market, and this competition is only expected to become fiercer over the next five years.

Peoplebank’s latest ICT Salary and Employment Index shows a significant increase in ICT job vacancies, driven by growing investment among Australian companies, and the Australian Government’s push into digital transformation, cloud technologies, and big data. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation agenda and focus on the upcoming “ideas boom” has added further excitement and hype around the tech industry. Australian consumers and businesses are now preparing for a rapid growth in start-ups and entrepreneurial business, that is expected to replace the gap left by the downturn of the mining industry.

The hype-heavy 3 D’s – Data, Development, Digital

Some of the most hyped-up roles in the tech industry include “data”, “development” and “digital” in the job titles. With more corporate and government organisations undergoing digital transformation and shifting their businesses online, demand for digital and web-related roles is on the rise. Big data, business intelligence, and data analytics are also gaining traction as businesses look to make more data-driven business decisions with digital technology.

The diminishing local talent in these fields is pushing up average salaries at a radical pace. In particular, specialists in iOS, Android and Software Development are highly sought after, with the average salaries for these specialists in senior positions experiencing an average $10,000 increase in the last three months.

The evolution of the ICT jobs market

Over the last five years, there has been a gradual shift among certain roles from traditional skills to digital skills, as well as the emergence of entirely new roles.

For example, business analyst (BA) roles now are more likely to be digital BA or agile BA roles. Meanwhile, the boom of mobile, online, and social have led to the emergence of user experience and customer experience specialist roles. Growing investment in big data has also driven demand for data warehousing, data science, and business intelligence professionals, which are roles that did not exist two years ago, and were not deemed as ‘high demand’ until 12 months ago.

With the ICT jobs market evolving at such a rapid pace, we can forecast there will be another round of ‘new’ jobs in high demand next year that are either overlooked as low-demand jobs today, or do not currently exist at all.

Shifting from sustainable jobs to sustainable skills

The only foreseeable constant in the ICT jobs market is change. However, this does not mean that today’s skills and jobs are going to necessarily disappear or become redundant. Instead, they will continue to shift and evolve, and companies looking to recruit from this talent pool need to be aware of these changes and how to futureproof their business against them.

A key part of this will be planning ahead, and forecasting the IT, digital, data, and technology projects expected over the next 12 months. Rather than just focusing on the skills needs of today, it is critical that businesses maintain a high level of foresight so they are not stuck in a continual cycle of recruiting for yesterday’s needs.

In addition to forward planning, businesses need to put the right processes and programs in place to ensure that their existing talent is equipped to carry the business forward as customer needs change over time. This could be through training and education programs, but also needs to extend to the ways recruiters hire talent. As well as hard skills, businesses need to be looking for people who are flexible, eager and fast to learn new concepts, and who can think outside the box. These ‘soft’ skills will give businesses a better chance of surviving and thriving as the skills they need to sustain their business continue changing and progressing beyond what is currently foreseeable.

Peter Acheson is Peoplebank CEO.

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