by Rebecca Merrett

Where are technology skills heading in 2016?

Dec 21, 2015

Next year will see increased demand for user experience, data science and cyber security skills, with non-traditional forms of education gaining traction in the market, according to analysts.

User experience (UX) is going to play a key role in digital transformation next year. Richard Fischer from Greythorn said that because digital and mobile projects are “booming” across many businesses in many industry sectors, the demand for easy-to-use and cleverly designed user interfaces will increase.

“If I’m an insurance company or a telecommunications company or I’m Woolworths, it’s what my consumer experience looks like when they are interfacing with me via their laptop or their mobile phone or their tablet,” added Peter Acheson from Peoplebank.

“So there’s a lot of investment going into the area of simplifying, making the user interface simple and easy to do business with.”

Demand for data science and data analytics skills will also increase next year. Acheson said a good portion of Peoplebank’s clients are looking to create data science and analytics teams in the coming year, mostly around building recommender systems based on customers’ purchasing history in relation to other data sources such as location and demographics.

However, in absolute terms the number of roles in data science and analytics will not be huge in the coming year, Fischer said.

“The demand for roles is not as significant as you would expect with the hype around it. That’s because the full benefits of big data and opportunities are still being scoped by organisations.”

He said it will be the fastest growing skill in the coming year, but not have the highest level of demand overall.

“Digital and mobility will see huge demand/increase,” Fischer said.

Cyber security skills will also be some of the most in-demand in 2016, Acheson said.

The Victorian government earlier this month announced a number of major cyber security initiatives for Melbourne, including Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre setting up a new office co-located with the new the Oceania Cyber Security Centre. In addition by 2017 NBN plans to have established a Melbourne cyber security operations centre.

Skills that will be subjected to more automation, outsourcing and offshoring in 2016 are in helpdesk, IT operations and infrastructure.

“The operational functions in IT, maintaining systems or keeping them up, they can be remotely monitored,” said Acheson. “And we don’t see a lot of roles anymore for helpdesk.”

“Infrastructure people at all levels have diminished over the past few years, as a result of cloud computing and automation,” said Fischer.

Fischer added that testing roles many graduates typically go into are declining due to automated testing, as well as offshoring.

Both professionals and employers are starting to change their views on formal tertiary education, Acheson and Fischer said. They said next year, there will be more focus on demonstrable skills and quick learning through compact online courses, practical workshops, hackathons and competitions.

“Employers are less inclined to put people in instructor led classroom because of time and resource [issues]. So employers prefer to provide their upskilling significantly via open source or online,” Fischer said.

“University degrees are extremely valuable and they do give you a very good platform of knowledge. But what our clients want in skills on an IT project is demonstrable experience; being able to demonstrate you’ve done this before somewhere else. So there’s a big demand for accreditation in IT,” said Acheson.

Read: Breaking down barriers to tech education

Some skills challenges for next year include a lag in the market when it comes to data science skills, as data scientist is a still relatively new role and it will take some time before there’s a healthy supply in the market, Acheson said.

He added that many companies are also still wrapping their heads around what exactly they need when they advertise for a data scientist and how to clearly articulate their interpretation of the role and what it is they are looking for.

“We had a client that wanted a lot of data scientists [and] we had to spend a lot of time with them to understand exactly what they are looking for. When they say data scientist, what is it specifically they mean?

“For me, there are two types of data scientists. There are the data scientists that have the capability to build mathematical equations and the IT model to crunch the numbers. And then there’s the data scientist who can take the data and look at the trends or the patterns and make a prediction based on that – they are the people who are worth a lot of money.”

Check out other trends for next year:

  • Where is machine learning heading in 2016?
  • Where is data analytics heading in 2016?
  • Where is the Internet of Things heading in 2016?
  • Where is wearable computing heading in 2016?