The 6 most in-demand tech skills are also the hardest to find

The number of skills required for a job has increased 10% year-over-year since 2017, according to Gartner data. This is in large part due to technology advancing faster than ever before.

During a time of digital transformation and emerging technologies, it’s important for companies to build a strong yet agile tech team. Our recent survey, in partnership with Foundry, included 211 enterprise IT decision-makers from the US, the UK, and Germany. It found that more than 1 in 4 tech workers (27%) remain remote and 83% of enterprises say that number will increase or remain the same over the next six months. It’s clear—remote work is here to stay.

The same IT decision makers ranked the skills that are most in-demand right now and found these six skills are the hardest to source. 

The six most in-demand tech skills are the six most difficult skills to source

What tech skills should take priority to set your business up for success right now? Core engineering, cloud API expertise, database expertise, data analytics, communications/collaboration, and DevOps methodology.

Let’s break down the tech skills that are most in demand right now:

1. Core engineering

Core engineering consists of computer science, or the study and design of hardware, software, and automation, in the context of games, applications, machinery, or websites. 

Core engineers, no matter their discipline or niche, can often execute on complex ideas in a way that others can’t — and, perhaps most importantly, they prevent key systems from collapsing.

Decision-makers in the UK (27%) and Germany (31%) are more likely to report difficulty sourcing core engineering skills than those in the US. When sifting through applicants in search of core engineering skills, you’ll want to look for experience coding or developing software and popular programming languages like JavaScript or Python — as well as whether they’re a front-end, back-end, or full-stack engineer or specialize in mobile or desktop. 


Questions to ask: 

  • Do you prefer to work on code alone or with a team? 
  • How do you prefer to communicate?
  • Describe a time you led an engineering project.

2. Cloud API expertise

A cloud application programming interface, or API, enables cloud computing services to transfer data and information between one another. Examples include Amazon’s AWS CloudWatch, Box API, and Google Cloud Storage

Developers with expertise in this area can help businesses stay ahead of the curve by allowing them to scale, innovate, and better customize their offerings in the cloud. They can also streamline an organization’s internal processes by capitalizing on the increasing use of and need for cloud services. Thirty eight percent of respondents said Cloud API expertise is a skill that is in high demand at their organization, with Germany (51%) as the leader. 

Candidates with this expertise should have experience with at least one cloud platform, as well as data storage, integrating networks, programming languages like Ruby, and operating systems like Linux.

Questions to ask: 

  • What are the key features of [Insert your cloud service]?
  • Tell me about a time when you worked on a cloud migration project. 
  • What do you think are the most important soft skills for a cloud engineer?

3. Database expertise

Database specialists design processes and systems for storing, retrieving, and securing data digitally, often through knowledge of programming languages like SQL, business intelligence, and data modeling. They may also have crucial soft skills, such as organization, time management, technical writing, and problem-solving skills, that allow them to expertly sift through and explain large data sets.

Database expertise ensures companies make smart, informed decisions, and that the data they might provide clients, customers, or stakeholders is accurate, easy to find and process, and consistent.

Questions to ask: 

  • Describe a time you troubleshooted database issues. 
  • How do you ensure accuracy in your work?
  • Why is accurate data important to businesses? How can they leverage data?

4. Data analytics

Data analytics goes hand in hand with database expertise in that it involves collecting and organizing data to draw conclusions and make predictions. It often requires, beyond the basic programming languages, extensive knowledge of statistical analysis, visualization, data privacy, and machine learning.

Like database expertise, experience in data analytics can help companies make calculated decisions and improve anything from sales to customer acquisition, or even reduce costs and build efficiencies internally. For example, data analysts can help marketing teams decide what kind of ad campaigns might have the biggest payoff, or assist healthcare teams with analyzing patient treatment or satisfaction.

Questions to ask:

  • What’s the largest data set you’ve worked on?
  • Describe a challenging data analysis project and how you overcame it. 
  • How do you explain data analysis to a layperson?

5. Communication/collaboration

Engineers and developers with strong communication and collaboration skills are able to give out clear instructions, break down complex topics into digestible terms, and work well with others, especially important in today’s remote-first world. They practice active listening, express empathy, and respect others’ ideas and input. So, while this might be a soft skill it’s not something to overlook. Communication ranked highest for US decision makers (30%) when asked what skills were more difficult to source. 

Being able to communicate effectively, both synchronously and asynchronously, ensures mistakes aren’t made, productivity remains high, and top talent is happy and sticks around for the long haul. 

Questions to ask:

  • How do you communicate with your current team/last team?
  • How do you describe complex topics to non-technical people?
  • What are some of your communications best practices?

6. DevOps methodology 

DevOps combines the work of software developers and IT operations teams to cover the entire lifecycle of software development, from planning and building to testing, deploying, and iterating. Expertise and experience in DevOps can break down silos that often hold tech teams back, speed up the development process, and improve scalability.

DevOps is in especially high demand in Germany, with 45% of decision makers seeking the skill. These engineers typically have a background in coding and infrastructure management, as well as strong cross-team collaboration and people management skills. They might help deploy updates or fixes to code, secure systems against cyber attacks, or just generally manage the flow of projects between development teams.

Questions to ask:

  • What was the most challenging migration you’ve experienced with DevOps?
  • What is your favorite practical application of DevOps methodology?
  • Tell me about your last DevOps project. What went well? What didn’t? How did you solve problems? 

Agile teams are necessary 

Most organizations (83%) expect steady or increasing demand for software development skills over the next 12 months. With the rapid growth and need to adopt emerging technologies, your companies need to understand where and how they can gain flexibility and agility in their workforce.

But where are they finding the talent with the necessary skills? All responding organizations are outsourcing development needs—on average, more than 40% of workloads are outsourced. 

These six tech skills are also, according to Andela’s recent survey, some of the hardest for recruiters to source for, meaning companies should invest just as heavily in employee experience and upskilling to keep their teams agile. According to McKinsey, around 82% of global executives expect that reskilling and upskilling will be at least half of the solution to their persistent skill gap.

Along with its vast global network of tech talent and powerful recruiting tools, Andela provides companies with world-class technical training programs to develop the next generation of engineers. This is achieved partly through Qualified, Andela’s developer-loved and the industry’s leading technical skills assessment platform to identify, qualify, and certify top engineers. 

To access the full survey download here or access the raw data from the survey here.

Looking to hire a global, agile tech team with the skills you need? Learn more about Andela’s Talent Network. 

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