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The digital skills shortage facing the IT industry

Europe’s IT industry is suffering from a growing skills gap. Demand for IT and coding talent is expected to continue to increase in the short to medium term.

However, in such a rapidly changing sector, it is all too easy to focus on the ‘hot’ technology of the moment rather than on the broader, longer-term requirements of the industry.

The rise in SaaS and IoT

The future lack of coding skills in the IT sector has been addressed in the form of code clubs and an emphasis on STEM subjects in schools. But the advent of digital technologies such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to shift the skills emphasis away from programming, which is becoming an increasingly automated process. This will have an impact on the IT and tech sector.

The rise in SaaS means that programming skills are no longer as important as they once were. A SaaS provider does the ‘heavy lifting’ for many organisations by providing software as a service, removing the need for IT departments to develop in-house solutions. This means that future employees will require the know-how to make full use of a SaaS’s potential, from implementation to adaptation, depending on the business’s needs.

The need for a broader skill set

While coding skills are unlikely to become obsolete, future businesses will require a much broader skill set in order to ensure commercial success. Employees’ activities are likely to span numerous disciplines, including big data analytics, product development, UX design, business acumen and marketing.

Big data analytics, for example, has become a business-critical function and the demand for graduates with the combination of quantitative skills and creativity necessary to excel in such a role is soaring: there has been a reported 123 per cent spike in demand for project managers with big data expertise compared to a 54 per cent increase in the demand for software-as-a-service.

Jobs of the future

As the rise in SaaS is not a new phenomenon, the impact this will have on the jobs of the future has not yet been fully explored. SaaS platforms are creating a data-driven culture but making sense of that data requires a variety of different skills to not only manage it but also to analyse it and assess its impact within a business environment.

An awful lot is expected of graduates in the IT industry today, but it may be even harder for the next generation. Not only will new joiners need to have a solid background in a STEM subject, but they will also need to demonstrate that they are adaptable, creative and analytical. However, the good news is that tomorrow’s IT professional will not be carrying out what are often more mundane tasks, as these will be automated.

Computerised job roles

A report conducted by the University of Oxford and Deloitte revealed that around 35 per cent of UK jobs are at high risk of computerisation over the coming 20 years. Specifically, roles that do not require human interaction are most at risk of automation. In contrast, jobs that require employees to think on their feet and be creative are less likely to be replaced by robots. The report also found that there is a shortage of graduates who display the right mix of STEM and ‘soft’ skills. Indeed, many employers already report that, while more and more IT job applicants do possess the required STEM skills, they often lack the ‘soft’ skills necessary to fulfil their assignments, such as critical analysis, creativity and communication skills.

What we’re saying here is not that coding will no longer be a necessity, but that it will be less and less of a requirement for future employees. The SaaS and IoT market is increasing and there is a definite need for coders there. However, as a consequence of SaaS and IoT, employers will be looking to milk the full potential of young prospects.

In the case of a form-building software solution such as ours, UX (the ability to integrate the form with your website and brand), data analysis (gathering conversion metrics and improving them), marketing knowledge and other similar skills will be at the heart of future job requirements.

Florin Cornianu is CEO and co-founder of SaaS provider 123ContactForm.

Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright