The Tech World is Changing: What Skills are in Demand?

Stormtroopers fixing a computer

Tech-related roles have certainly surged in the past decade, evolving from web development and coding right through to machine learning engineering and data science.

Those who work in the field have had to keep pace with the ever changing nature of the sector if they wish to remain competitive in their chosen line of work. However, certain skills are becoming increasingly sought after regardless of which area of technology you work in.

HorizonOne’s Lucas Walker, Tom Michael and James Buckland have specialised experience within different areas of technology recruitment. We asked them what they’re currently seeing in the demand for tech talent, and which skills they believe will be essential in 2021 and beyond…

1. Data Science and Supporting Soft Skills

Lucas has seen an increasing demand for candidates with data skills (including data science), but as more candidates enter the market, it’s the people who have invested in developing their soft skills who will outshine the competition and make them more valuable both now and in the future.

Communication

Data professionals are no longer hidden behind the scenes working in isolation, so they must be able to communicate effectively with other technical specialists and broader business stakeholders to understand their needs and deliver results. Learning to ask great questions, listening intently to answers, and truly understanding requirements is key to success. Equally important is the ability to turn technical language into an understandable context for business areas.

Story telling

The top candidates understand that data always tells a story, and the ability to share that story is a valuable skill. Simply analysing, crunching numbers and knowing how to capture, process and store data is not enough. Data visualisation and ensuring people understand the impact of the data across the organisation is vital to the storytelling process.

These candidates have a natural curiosity which means they want to dig deeper, think laterally which allows them to connect the dots, and use their story telling smarts to explain data in a way that allows the key business areas (both technical and non-technical) to use the information to make informed decisions.

Big picture thinking

Every area of an organisation is a cog in a machine that is working towards something much bigger (yes, even government). The top data candidates collaborate effectively and think outside the box when it comes to the reasons why data is needed, why results appear as they do, and what impacts they are having or could have on the business. This big picture thinking will make a candidate a valuable asset to an organisation.

2. Agile Methodology

Regardless of the type of technical work a person does, it’s the way they do it that is changing. Tom is seeing less organisations rely on the old waterfall methodology for project management and opt for an agile approach instead.

Opt for Efficiency

Where the waterfall methodology could see a project take many years to complete, the agile methodology gets results faster and is more efficient. It optimises predictability, controls risk, and generally saves time and money.

This is particularly relevant in technical fields because solutions that take a long time to develop and deploy can sometimes become redundant by the time they are completed.

Tech professionals who understand agile working and are certified in SAFe (scaled agile framework) or have completed other agile scrum training, will be more attractive to public and private sector organisations than their peers. Along with agile methodology comes adaptability. A candidate’s ability to “go with the flow” and make changes as issues arise are key to success when it comes to implementing agile projects.

If you don’t adapt you’ll be left behind

A good agile project manager can adapt as issues arise. Agile requires someone to be able to change processes and plans, who is a people person and can communicate expectations, and is flexible. People who are resistant to progress without being able to adapt will be left behind when it comes to this style of methodology.

3. Service Design

James has seen a growing demand for service designers in today’s market, alongside the developing maturity of human-centred design disciplines in the Canberra market.

The Key to Transformation

This is the process of conceptualising and developing meaningful solutions to improve the quality of a service. This could be geared towards internal customers across business areas, or external customers such as citizens moving through the journey of a government service. This is particularly in high demand as clients increasingly invest in modernisation and digital transformation, especially government.

Rather than starting with an idea, designers start by listening to end users about their challenges, wants and needs. They should leverage user insights and data to co-create solutions while maintaining constant feedback loops, and iterate to improve. Customer needs are paramount at all stages of the journey, and the outcome needs to be a fit-for-purpose solution that is highly practical and human-centred.

For anyone in a tech-related role, the ability to apply design thinking throughout the development of any solution is a highly sought after skill in both digital and non-digital services. Leveraging their tech related skills and knowledge, and being able to translate that into outcomes for business needs is a valuable skill.

Upskill

Candidates can gain these skills by taking courses in UX (user experience), or design thinking where they deep dive into customer journeys, rapid-prototyping, storyboarding, and more. This is particularly valuable for people who don’t have an opportunity to practice these in their current role and can learn to use digital tools like Figma, Sketch, and Axure.

Coupled with technical skills, UX and design thinking will equip candidates with an impressive CV that makes them highly attractive for a broad range of technical and business roles.


Stay a step ahead of the rest

As we enter a period of rapid technological change, candidates who invest in themselves and their careers are more likely to beat out the competition when applying for exciting new roles in both the public and private sectors.

If you’re a technology professional and would like to speak with Lucas, Tom or James about the current job market in tech, please contact us.