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Economic uncertainty, rising inflation, changing lifestyles and a volatile job market are having an unprecedented impact on corporate hiring and future IT job markets. Companies are ramping up hiring in critical areas, such as AI and data analytics, but are retreating to long-term IT roles and employment. At the same time, emerging IT talent is seeking more flexible and engaging work environments as new opportunities emerge and desirable lifestyle options evolve.
Software developers, data analysts and cybersecurity jobs are Light spots in a rapidly changing IT employment landscape. This is according to a recent report by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for software developers are expected to grow by 21% by 2028, the fastest growing sector of the national labor market. Year after year vacancies for software developers and programmers approximately doubled in the third quarter by 2022, while other computer-related and IT work skills categories increased more modestly. Most job openings outside the digital economy remained stable or declined. Mastering the changes in job growth patterns and the skills required within the IT sector is essential for business leaders as a potential recession looms.
See also: The future of software development in 2022 and beyond
Trends in software development
New trends in software development are accelerating as companies and organizations recognize the strategic importance of IT and prioritize digital transformation and innovation. Consumers are going online in record numbers and companies are expanding digital channels and products to meet skyrocketing demand. Changes in supply chains, cloud and remote work environments, along with technology tipping points, are driving strategic IT investment and workforce needs. Flexibility, scalability and security remain popular software features as companies look for unique and efficient solutions for their operations.
Forward-looking companies seeking IT innovation are rapidly adopting AI, cloud computing and data science applications. Some managers look outside their organization to initiate change. This trend fits well with the emergence of a growing pool of freelance talent with niche skills available to lead specific project-based initiatives. Companies manage innovation challenges and investments in IT infrastructure amid an active workforce and the labor market.
Job specialization… or generalization?
Do new market realities influence the answer to this age-old question? The debate continues in the IT field and in the digital economy and career spectrum. For computer scientists and software engineers, generalization means understanding core concepts and principles and having transferable skills to work with multiple languages and documentation. Specialization means a deep but relatively narrow focus on one language, framework and platform. Freelance software developers often find specialization an efficient way to engage the market, but then see the logic of a broader perspective as their careers develop. Companies tend to promote longer-term generalists and more permanent positions.
A successful software developer’s career strategy is to build a generalist foundation of computer and data science concepts and then specialize in one or two hot areas. The IEEE Computer Science Society computer science career guide recommends a range of academic courses on core topics such as computer theory and systems, security, and engineering concepts. Students are then encouraged to consider special areas in later years and at the graduate level. Successful business leaders recognize this pattern and provide opportunities to students in terms of internships and employee career development initiatives. Historical trends in the digital economy seem to favor specialists until the market turns and a new technology comes to the fore. The challenge is understanding where the market is going and anticipating changes.
Related: How AI Will Transform Software Development
Specializations for the future
Machine learning software developer and data scientist skills top the list of in-demand software development talent and are two of the hottest growth areas. Business leaders are increasingly seeing AI as indispensable in multiple business areas, including supply chain logistics and transportation, finance, and natural language processing. Machine learning enhanced software development is an exciting thing – will AI reduce the demand for software engineers in the future? Mainstream AI applications today are limited to code testing and automating routine programming sequences. Still, an emerging wave of AI experts is bringing new ideas and a new set of robust machine learning tools. Meanwhile, most observers expect human software engineers to remain a vital piece of the puzzle for years to come.
The data scientist position – a job title first used in 2008 – has gained prominence and will continue to expand in breadth and scope as companies increasingly grapple with overwhelming volumes of data and an urgent need for data-driven forecasting and forecasting. Databases show no signs of slowing down. Talented data analysts and emerging AI tools provide the insights and interpretations to take advantage of all kinds of ever-growing mountains of data. Data scientists often work in interdisciplinary teams and draw on a robust set of complementary soft skills, including critical thinking, communication, leadership, and more.
Recognize the pattern and get on board
Consumer and work lifestyle choices, influential macroeconomic trends, and strategic business needs drive IT innovation and investment. Organizations and companies in virtually every economic sector are embracing rapid digital transformation and technologically smart solutions. Software development has rarely been more complex, more urgent or more in need of creative and motivated talent. Many companies are looking for an evolving mix of permanent IT staff, freelance software developers, generalists and specialists to deliver critical business solutions. The favored areas for software development are machine learning, data science, and robust AI specialist tools. Organizations seek a competitive advantage to solve seemingly intractable problems, such as bottlenecks in the supply chain. Thinking about a career in software development? The future looks very rosy indeed.
Related: Hiring the Modern Programmer: Does that savvy new software developer of yours also have “soft” skills?