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Tech Skills Soar: Can You and Your Company Keep Up?


February 16th, 2018

- Updated on

April 8, 2019 - 2:24pm
Block Chain, BitCoin, Drone Robotics, Vulnerability Testing, Augmented Reality, Amazon Web Services Lambda, Deep Learning, Hub Spot. To some, this list may sound like unintelligible techno-speak.
  • For business leaders working to keep their organizations at the forefront of technology innovation, it highlights just a few of the skills that they may need to leverage in 2018 and beyond.
  • For employees willing to learn and grow as demands of the marketplace rapidly evolve, these technical capabilities and accompanying essential soft skills are potential pathways to achieve long-term career sustainability.
We recently reviewed several surveys of the hottest skills for 2018, and the results were no surprise. Skills that are most in demand today did not even hit the top 20 just a few short years ago. In all five reports we studied (highlighted in the table below) our tech world is in a state of rapid change and exponential development. One of the biggest challenges for company recruiters today is the scarcity of talent with the right training, skills, and experience.  

“Job growth in the next decade is expected to outstrip growth during the previous decade, with 11.5 million more jobs expected by 2026, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even further, it’s estimated that 65% of children entering primary school today will hold jobs that don’t yet exist.”

In addition to the Federal government statistics, Modis, a tech and engineering recruiting platform predicts a 12% increase in tech employment opportunities by 2024 as opposed to 6.5% growth in other industries, with many roles growing exponentially within the next year.
Upwork recently hosted a webinar outlining the fastest growing freelancing skills in Q4 of 2017. The information shared was enough to give pause to anyone who is focused on keeping their career and their company on the cutting edge. The top 12 fastest growing skills, all based in the technology field, exhibited from 100% to 200% growth over the same quarter of 2016 with the top 10 growing by more than 200% over the same period in 2016. Eight of the top ten skills are relatively new to the quarterly skills list, highlighting the rapid evolution of demand. View the webinar recording below.

Opportunity Abounds for Those with the Right Skills Portfolio

These data mean opportunity with a capital “O” for those who are well positioned to take advantage of the myriad of openings for highly trained job seekers. For those within organizations who possess an up-to-date tech portfolio coupled with the soft skills that enable them to sell themselves and communicate with their non-tech colleagues and customers, it offers a chance for speedy upward mobility. And, for individuals looking to build future success, planning a career that embeds an element of continuous learning is a must.
Let’s look at the demand enumerated by the various surveys in the chart below. Technical skills in most demand are listed on the left, with an X in the column if that skill was mentioned in the survey report by that organization. For details on the exact prediction of growth potential, you may want to review the specific jobs report accessible via the links.
Skill in Demand in 2018 and Beyond Forbes Technology Council LinkedIn 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report Indeed.com Hiring Lab Report Upwork, formerly eLance - oDesk Modis Tech & Eng. Jobs Report 2017
Javascript Library React X X X X  
Amazon Web Services (AWS) X   X X X
Azure (Microsoft cloud computing platform) X   X    
Hyper-V & VMware, DevOps & IPv6 for cloud computing X   X    
Offensive Security Certification     X   X
Cybersecurity X     X X
Robotics       X  
Bitcoin / Blockchain Technology       X  
Penetration Testing & Vulnerability Assessment       X  
Artificial Intelligence X X   X  
Augmented Reality       X  
Deep Learning /Machine Learning X X   X  
Natural Language Processing       X  
Data Scientists/Data Analytics/Big Data X X   X X
Mobile Application Development X   X   X
Software development: Python, Swift, UT, UX design, Rivets.js, Objective C, Angular JS X X X X X
Digital/Social Media Marketing X X   X  
Sales Development   X   X  
Customer Success Management   X      
Hard and soft skills graphic


Soft Skills Remain Important

Besides the highly desirable tech skills listed above, a savvy leader, employee or job seeker must possess the soft skills that enable them to communicate to their colleagues and customers in a culturally sensitive and effective manner. Here are the skills that rise to the top of Hays Global Recruiters most in-demand soft skills for 2018 and beyond, and the LinkedIn 2017 US Emerging Jobs Report for 2018.
Man pointing
  1. Cultural Intelligence
  2. Adaptability/ Flexibility
  3. Curiosity
  4. Collaboration
  5. Leadership 
  6. Communication 
  7. Cross-Team Functionality
  8. Customer Focus
  9. Willingness to Learn
  10. Emotional Intelligence
  11. Growth Potential
  12. Prioritization

What Do These Skill Demands Mean to You?

Bottom line: The pace of acceleration in technical capability is increasing exponentially. 
  • Business Leaders can source and hire their own in-house experts, or go out to the open freelance marketplace to secure the latest expertise in skills needed for specific projects. For established firms, the latter option may feel riskier, but it allows a company to maintain the flexibility and versatility in their technical capabilities essential to stay current within their market.
  • Job seekers, employees, and freelancers must invest time every day to develop and maintain their technical edge as new applications and demands for skills arise. This commitment to maintaining cutting-edge technical skills promises both career and income security not previously seen in the gig economy.  
  • Employees who work to develop their leadership potential, global cultural awareness, and emotional intelligence will have the best chance to rise in their career. Employers not only seek technical expertise but those who can embrace and manage change, take a customer’s perspective and communicate effectively across increasingly interconnected social and geographic boundaries.

Continuous Learning is a Must- But How, When Job Demands are So Great? Try a MOOC.

Leaders often say they want their employees to learn and acquire skill proficiency. But today’s business demands rarely afford employees time in the day to focus on developing new skills. And, many firms will only pay for coursework, or give time off to attend classes if the subject matter is directly in line with an employee's current role. This leaves many individuals without ready support to develop emerging skills, whether due to financial or time constraints standard with traditional learning modalities, such as university classes and in-house training programs.
Most recently, developments in learning provide viable alternatives to traditional learning. MOOCs, (Massive Open Online Courses) are among the most promising. MOOCs are usually offered on focused learning platforms such as Coursera, edX, founded by Harvard and MIT, LinkedIn’s In Learning Lynda.com, and Google’s Digital Garage, and others. For a small fee, a student can access the best of the best learning opportunities offered by the world’s finest educational institutions and some firms themselves. MOOCs provide content from these elite universities at the student’s convenience. They enable a student to select a single course for just-in-time learning or focus on a series that results in a certificate within a specialty.
Check out the course catalogs from these top MOOC learning platforms to see for yourself.

MOOCs for Workforce Development

Intrigued? I know I was when I first discovered that anyone could take a course from Harvard, Stanford, or University of Michigan without worrying about admission standards and exorbitant tuition costs. 

How can a leader support this sort of learning for his or her team? 

A recent article in Harvard Business Review (Can MOOCs Solve Your Training Problem?) provided specific guiding principles and best practices for employers seeking to leverage MOOCs for workforce development.   
  • Senior Leaders must support learning and development efforts more broadly.
  • Managers and peers are the best champions of MOOCs. Line managers can guide course selection for development of job-relevant skills and can support individual’s self-directed learning during work hours. They can balance workloads so that people have time to study. 
  • Employers can recommend or convene small discussion groups around common courses, helping employees cement learning concepts by fostering peer learning.
  • Companies can use MOOCs to develop broader competencies, not just skills for core jobs. This cross-discipline training can enhance productivity and communication across disciplines and those with different functional backgrounds. 
  • Employers should track MOOCs in performance reviews. When employers provide support for MOOCs, completion rates rise from 15% to 58%.

Employees and Job Seekers -  MOOCs Can Help Fill Your Skills Gaps

For employees and job seekers, MOOCs can be an answer to that nagging question of how you will ever find the time, or the money needed to keep current in your profession or to make a necessary or desired career move.
  • Do you want to make a career change to an emerging field? Try a MOOC.
  • Do you want to brush up on a skill you have not used in a while? Try a MOOC.
  • Do you want to earn a certification for a high demand role, or a promotional opportunity? Try a MOOC.
  • Do you want to learn a new language to improve your cultural intelligence quotient? Try a MOOC.
Learning has never been more convenient, more accessible, or more affordable.  And it has never been more critical to your career survival in this rapidly evolving global marketplace. So, our challenge to you is this. Research the links to the MOOCs listed above, scan the list of the emerging tech and soft skills in highest demand. Look at your own resume and determine if there are skills gaps you want to fill.
Then, sign up for and complete a MOOC. Do it as an experiment. Give this new form of learning a try, and we believe you will be hooked. Use this tool to your advantage to stay ahead of the skills curve, as insurance against career obsolescence, and who knows… it may even be a lot of fun!

How Will You Respond?

Certainly, this skills review is evidence that the world we all inhabit is changing more rapidly than we may have ever imagined, no matter on which side of the equation you reside, employer, employee, job seeker or freelancer.
We can choose to ignore these changes, but we do so at our own risk. Or we can stretch our thinking and test the waters of these new technologies and learning approaches to the potential benefit of our careers, our teams, our companies, and our customers. Which of these leaders or employees are you? How will you respond to these changes in 2018 and beyond?  

Kathy Flora is a Career and Executive Coach and AJO Blogger who is actively pursuing her life’s passion, helping others find and fulfill theirs. Known as a positive change agent, mentor and guide, she has assisted hundreds of leaders and their teams understand their strengths, collaborate effectively, and drive organizational success. She has a special affinity for working with virtual teams, using webinars, virtual meet-ups, and online collaborative communities to optimize communication and productivity. Her experience spans over 25 years in executive management and leadership, career development, facilitation, and consulting in private firms, state government, and in federal agencies.