IT skill sets of the future

In our recent survey of more than 1,600 technology professionals, more than two thirds said they believe that their job role will change in some way over the next five years. 27% explicitly stated that their role will change substantially in that time. A further 8% said that their job role may be at risk, and 4% said their role would not exist by 2021. In addition, 64% of surveyed technology professionals believe the company they work for does not embrace new technology and a further 66% believe the company they work for is not proactive in implementing changes to be fit for the future. 

With so much change predicted in the tech industry over the next five years, what are the IT skill sets of the future? And how can IT professionals and organisations prepare for the future?

One finding from the research which hints at the answer to these questions is the perceptions on the biggest disruptors to the industry. When asked about which factors have the potential to be the biggest disruptors, the factor chosen by the highest number of respondents was Cyber Security (47%). Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT) were also high on the list, chosen by 40% of respondents. With the influence of these technologies in mind, three of our technology recruitment specialists make their predictions on what we can expect from the IT jobs market in the next five years and what skills will be in high demand.

Cyber security

2016 saw a number of high profile hacks take the news by storm but over the next five years, cyber security incidents are only set to increase in the level of complexity and frequency. Indeed, Prof. Richard Benham, Chairman of the National Cyber Management Centre, gave a worrying warning: "A major bank will fail as a result of a cyber-attack in 2017”.

IT and Compliance teams across all organisations will also have to contend with new data protection legislation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due to come into effect in 2018, will be a major influence on the security jobs market in the next five years. This legislation intends to strengthen and unify data protection laws in the EU and organisations face fines of up to 4% of their annual turnover for non-compliance. Protecting consumer data from being hacked will be a significant part of meeting these regulations. The Internet of hackable things is also something cyber criminals will likely exploit, with wearables and smart fridges just a couple of examples of connected devices, which are entering more and more homes.

Jonathan Martin, Cyber Security & Cloud Department Manager explains the impact on the security jobs market:

“The upcoming GDPR combined with the increase in the frequency and variety of hacks will result in many firms employing more Governance and Risk Managers as well as IT Security Managers and Security Analysts to implement robust security procedures and educate non-IT staff. As Cyber Security becomes even more essential to organisations of all sizes across all sectors, we will see a rise in recruitment of Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs), this commitment to C-level accountability will give a clear message of the importance which companies place on their responsibility towards the security of their data and systems.”


With its presence already felt in the Automotive, Manufacturing and Healthcare sectors, the influence of IoT is only set to grow with the IoT industry predicted to be worth $1.9 trillion by 2020. Nick Bailey, Head of our Converging Communications Practice shares his predictions:

“Over the next five years we expect to see an increase in demand for commercial roles such as Sales and Pre Sales Managers, IoT Product Managers along with senior technical roles such as IoT Architects, IoT Developers, and Data Scientists to run projects from initial requirements, to the conversion of ideas to design and working code, interpretation and use of data and finally implementation.”

"Full stack developers who have knowledge beyond just software, who are also able to incorporate hardware programming to their skillsets will also be in high demand. Another position expected to emerge could be a Chief Internet of Things Officer (CIoTO), as companies that stand to benefit from IoT will want to employ an IoT champion with executive level power and influence to prioritise IoT projects.”

Big Data

Big data will become more and more important due to increased consumer demand for real-time data and also as a result of other emerging technologies such as IoT which requires a great deal of data interpretation to function. The market for Artificial Intelligence will continue to grow including the demand for robots, autonomous vehicles, and virtual personal assistants.

Chris Rosebert, Head of Data Science and A.I., Networkers, described the job opportunities that could arise:

“We have already seen the emergence of the Chief Data Officer, and it will continue to be one of the biggest growth positions to help enforce the use of Big Data to drive and champion these innovations in businesses for the future. Positions such as Data Scientists, Big Data Architects, Data Engineers and researchers who can code, have an inquisitive mind and are customer oriented will be in high demand. Knowledge of Spark as well as NoSQL will be beneficial for those seeking a career in Big Data. There will also be increasing focus on the privacy of the data that is stored and therefore a need for professionals in this field to have an advanced understanding of security.”

Our research confirms that there is a high level of awareness amongst the tech community about changes to the industry and the IT roles within it. However, with the majority of technology professionals unconfident about their company’s preparedness for the future, only the most forward-thinking companies with the right skills on board will remain competitive in the long-term.

See how your views on the future of the industry compare to your peers by visiting our online Technology: Voice of the Workforce tool.

To see our Cyber Security jobs click here.

To see our IoT & Connected World jobs click here.

To see our Big Data jobs click here.

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