Tech skills trends 2017

With only a week and a few days left of 2016, it is a good time to start considering what the new year might have in store for the tech industry and what this means for the people who are working within it. Here are our top three predictions for the IT and telecommunications sectors and the anticipated impact on the jobs market.

Connectivity will continue to increase

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is predicted that by 2020 close to 30 billion devices will be connected. IoT reaches into every industry including Automotive, Manufacturing and Healthcare, and its influence is only set to grow, with the industry having a predicted value of $1.9 trillion by 2020. In particular, the demand for mobile broadband will continue to increase, mainly driven by the desire of mobile users to watch more content on the go, such as ultra-high definition video.

With more devices being connected and huge amounts of data being consumed, the networks of the future will look a lot different. Mobile operators and telecommunications vendors hope that 5G will be the backbone of the internet; however 5G will face competition from cellular technologies such as the NB-IOT offerings of Sigfox and LoRa as well as other wireless connectivity standards such as ZigBee, Wifi and Bluetooth.

The importance of improved network infrastructure is being recognised in the UK, where the Government has proposed an investment of £1bn to enhance the nation’s connectivity and address the digital ‘deserts’ that exist in some rural areas. Nick Bailey, Head of our Converging Communications Practice, explains what this means for jobs in the UK telco sector: “With significant investment in network infrastructure, there will be an increase in  jobs such as installers, testers, designers and project managers for FTTH and ongoing 4G/LTE upgrades.”

Security will remain significant

A major tech topic which dominated the news this year was cyber security, with several high profile security breaches being made public. Whilst most of these cases have involved businesses being targeted, individuals are also coming under attack. Over the past few months, up to 1.3 million Android phone users have been targeted by what is being called ‘Gooligan’ malware which infiltrates Google accounts and forces users into downloading apps, which the hacking culprits can then make money from.

For a business, brand reputational damage, financial loss and data protection fines are all possible consequences of a security breach and with the high volume of high profile breaches which have been reported over the past year, the importance of prevention as a form of defence against the threat of cyber attacks has been highlighted.

Prevention relies on a multi-pronged strategy. Of course, there are different programmes you can run to recognise unusual activity but the most effective prevention strategies use a combined technology and human approach. Educating your workforce about safe security practices, how to identify threats and how to report them is hugely important, not just in your defence against external attacks but also internal security breaches, which may or may not be intentional. This is something which Jonathan Martin, Cyber Security & Cloud Department Manager, believes will be increasingly important in the year ahead: “From recent research in the industry, we know that internal ‘actors’ are responsible for around 43% of data breaches, half of which are accidental. More user awareness training is key to mitigating security risks.”

Another major influence on security strategies in the new year is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into effect in 2018. 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 adhering to these regulations.

So what security jobs will be increasingly in demand in 2017? “Governance and Risk Managers will be key to GDPR compliance, and IT Security Managers and Security Analysts will continue to be relied upon to implement robust security procedures and facilitate the education of non-IT staff.”

DevOps will define the Cloud

As companies continue to move to cloud based services, employers are demanding IT professionals with a range of experience within disciplines like mobile device management, multi-factor authentication, specialist and off the shelf networking and systems monitoring tools, vulnerability assessment and penetration testing. However, this demand will not be met as cloud experts will continue to be in short supply in the new year. Whilst this creates challenges for businesses looking to invest in the cloud, for those with experience in cloud, it is somewhat good news as you can take your pick of the projects and companies you want to work for.

Something else which Wayne Taylor, Cloud Consultant, believes the new year will bring is a rise in the demand for Cloud Security Architects and Head of DevOps: “Clearly, cloud services present additional security considerations and with impending updates to data protection legislation, companies will be looking for IT professionals who know how to implement cloud services in a safe and secure environment.”

“DevOps is becoming more and more recognised as a culture and set of practices. Whilst traditionally it has been a Senior Architect that has brought it in and cascaded it down to the development and operations teams, we are already starting to see the emergence of Head of DevOps roles to manage the communication between the two teams, whilst also possessing the technical skills.”

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