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Demand for Digital, IT Skills Growing Rapidly

Two men working on computers in an office.

​A new report outlines the hottest IT, blockchain and software development skills in 2022. Despite the ominous crash in cryptocurrency, the demand for blockchain programming skills shot up by 552 percent last year, making it by far the fastest-growing, in-demand IT skill, according to the DevSkiller Digital & IT Skills Report 2023.

But it wasn't the top skill tested in the DevSkiller skills assessment and management cloud platform. JavaScript had a 23 percent share in the number of skills assessments sent to candidates and employees, followed by Java (19 percent), SQL (16 percent), Python (8 percent), and PHP (5 percent). The report's findings are based on 209,249 coding tests sent through the DevSkiller platform to candidates.

Within the red-hot blockchain segment, particular areas of the value chain stood out based on the volume of tests performed. Solidity, a programming language used to write smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, was the most commonly tested skill with a 44 percent share in the number of skills assessments sent to candidates and employees. It beat out the Hardhat developer environment (22 percent), and smart contracts—software that performs financial operations on the Ethereum network (15 percent). Other skills in demand included Chainlink (to transfer and link off-chain information) and Truffle (another developer environment for smart contracts that competes with Hardhat).

According to Jakub Kubryński, DevSkiller founder and CEO, the tech talent job market is splitting into two types of roles: those that require deep technical expertise and sophisticated IT skills like Cloud Native Java and "softer" digital skills proficiency. If you are a content marketing manager, for example, you need to have a certain level of knowledge about HTML and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to be able to make your content visually appealing online and search engine optimization friendly. Such digital skills, though, don't provide the level of proficiency to build a website or an application interface. That's where IT skills are needed, like advanced HTML and CSS together with JavaScript.

"We predict that the demand for both types of skills—IT and digital—will be rapidly growing in the upcoming years, creating different challenges for different groups of employees and candidates," Kubryński said. "Those on the business side will need to ramp up their level of general tech savviness while IT professionals will need to deepen their technical expertise in a certain programming language or other area of IT."

Improving Your Career Trajectory

Contrary to popular belief, Kubryński said a typical day for a software developer or an IT engineer does not involve sitting in front of a computer and typing code. With the rise of no-code/low-code platforms and ready-to-use chunks of code floating around the Internet, the technical skills alone are not sufficient to land a job in the IT industry. Soft skills are needed more and more to cooperate well with others and provide positive input.

"Any IT professional needs to be able to communicate well with the business stakeholders to understand their needs and then design the optimal way of addressing them with available technology," said Kubryński. "If you focused on expanding your technical skills until now, you might want to consider upskilling yourself when it comes to communication or analytical skills. Otherwise, you might end up stuck in your current position for a few years or even risk being laid off during the next economic downturn."

The DevSkiller report also broke down the skills required for various technical roles correlated against junior, middle and senior levels. Junior developers require 40 skills on average, while midlevel and senior developers need 106 and 150 skills respectively.

"Many companies are adjusting their recruitment strategies to focus on acquiring high-potential juniors who can be later upskilled," Kubryński said.

The difficulty can lie, however, in being able to precisely measure how proficient someone is in languages such as Java or Python. To address the skills-depth challenge, Kubryński recommended assessing skills of employees from at least three angles: Test them on a skills assessment platform; gather skills evaluations from managers; and ask for self-evaluation and peer assessment.

"Once you've mapped the skills of your employees, you can move forward to planning their development and career paths," he said. "By designing tailor-made upskilling and reskilling programs, you can help employees acquire and develop in-demand IT and digital skills, and at the same time build a future-ready company."

Grow Your Own

In the current economic situation, he advised HR departments to focus on employees they already have. That's because it's easier and cheaper to help existing employees upskill or reskill than fire them and fight for top talent in the job market. Those looking for data scientists, for example, probably already have candidates with some important prerequisites in the financial or marketing departments.

Atlanta-based software design and development firm HatchWorks uses DevSkiller for talent assessment and management. "We use the test results between the recruiter interview and the technical interview to determine the level of the candidate as well as provide the tech interviewers options to dig in on certain aspects of the candidate's experience," said Trent Cotton, vice president of talent and culture at HatchWorks. "This has allowed us to have more value-added technical interviews and provide a more encompassing candidate profile to our clients."

Drew Robb is a freelance writer in Clearwater, Fla., specializing in IT and business.


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