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Why IT skills were in demand in 2015

Access to talent is key for any business looking to stay ahead of the competition. Yet finding people with the right digital skills is one of the biggest growth challenges faced by UK businesses.

A recent report by Telefonica estimates that the UK is losing £2 billion per year from unfilled roles requiring digital skills.

The problem is particularly acute in fast-moving industries, such as software development, where skill requirements change rapidly and businesses race to keep pace with evolving technology. This is why we’re seeing an increasing number of businesses turn to expert freelance developers to support their internal teams. In fact, according to our list of the top 10 most in-demand skills of 2015, several developer skills make the cut, including PHP, HTML5 and JavaScript.

We’ve taken a closer look to determine why certain skills are more in-demand than others and it’s clear that some of the biggest technological shifts of the year are reflected in the ranking. For example, back in April when Google announced that mobile-friendly sites would rank higher in search (Mobilegeddon), businesses all over the world had to quickly react and ensure that their site was up to the necessary spec. During this period we saw demand spike by 100 per cent for developers on the platform who could create digital products that work seamlessly across devices leveraging frameworks such as Bootstrap and AngularJS.

More recently, following Apple, Google and other tech giants’ decisions to phase out Adobe Flash ads in favour of those built in HTML5, businesses turned to the freelance economy to seek the skills required to reflect the preferred ad format. This market change put HTML5 as the fourth most in-demand IT and development skill of 2015. This will undoubtedly continue to be a much-needed programming language throughout 2016.

As we look at the rising skills on our platform, it's clear that companies and developer teams are all taking a mobile-first approach - iOS, Android app and Twitter Bootstrap are all ranked among the top 10.

Top 10 IT & Development Skills

  1. PHP
  2. JavaScript
  3. WordPress Site Development
  4. HTML5
  5. CSS
  6. Android App Development
  7. iOS App Development
  8. MySQL
  9. jQuery
  10. Twitter Bootstrap

Whenever a site, tool or app is built, it needs to function across devices so programming languages that are device agnostic or responsive will remain in high demand. This has never been so important as this summer when Ofcom announced that smartphones have officially become the most popular way for UK consumers to browse the internet.

Of course, staying on top of all the latest skills is a real challenge for all businesses. One of the big advantages of combining a distributed freelancer workforce with a full-time workforce is that freelancers can often bring fresh skills to the rest of your team. Freelancers constantly evaluate what the market needs and have to update their skills to remain competitive. This is particularly true of those with skills in the fast-moving world of tech.

It’s time to outsmart the skills shortage and take advantage of the new possibilities technology has given us to find the talent we need – talent that is literally a click away via the Internet.

Mateo Bueno, Category Director of Web, Mobile and Software Development at Upwork

Image source: Shutterstock/Kirill Wright