The applications of technology and development processes are constantly evolving. As an IT contractor you are well position to meet the needs of organisations across many industries, however it is easy to neglect newer technical and soft skills and specialisations which gain popularity in the ever-changing IT market.
The incredible rate of new technology adoption and evolution mean that IT professionals are challenged to update their skills regularly, so ensuring you are up to date with trending tools and techniques will keep your CV on top of market demand. This not only allows you to provide the best service possible to your end-clients, it also means you are consistently progressing and your contract career prospects.
Top 3 IT skills for contractors according to market trends in 2023:
1. Cloud computing
Using “the cloud”, businesses and organisations can remotely access computer resources from cloud service providers as needed.
Cloud computing is rapidly growing in popularity and was estimated to be worth $545.8 billion in 2022, with a projection of reaching $1.2 trillion by 2027. Tech giants like Google, IBM, Microsoft and HP have taken a lead in the market with their investments in various forms of cloud computing.
Different cloud services to get familiar with:
- Infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
A type of computer service which offers essential storage, computing and network resources on demand, using a pay-as-you-go subscription model.
- Platform as a service (PaaS)
This is considered a complete development and deployment cloud environment, designed to support the complete web application life cycle. PaaS includes servers, storage and networking like IaaS but also encompasses businesses intelligence, database management systems and others.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
Applications which allow users to connect and use cloud-based apps over the internet. Popular examples of this include streaming services, email and office tools. This has become a very popular market, with the UK claiming a predicted market size of £33.2 billion in 2023.
2. Cyber security
Cyber security is defined as how individuals and organisations reduce the risk of cyber-attack(s). Cyber-attacks usually refer to unauthorised access to computer systems causing theft or damage. In today’s data-driven world, cyber security measures are essential to protect business operations.
In 2022, 39% of businesses reported suffering a cyber attack in 2022, costing businesses an average of £4,200. During the pandemic, cyber criminals took advantage of misaligned networks, with cyber-attacks increasing 125% across the globe in 2021.
The demand for cyber security skills is growing as users and businesses make more use of electronic communication and mobile devices in their operations. By 2030 the number of cyber security jobs are projected to increase by 30%.
In demand cyber security skills:
- IT and networking:
Organisations have a need for system administration and networking skills, to protect their private networks. This also includes skills in troubleshooting, network security assessment and information system maintenance.
- Threat intelligence
Organisations need professionals skilled in assessing cyber security risks and developing strategies for mitigation. While an organisation may have the tools to identity threats, these are ineffective without professionals who can properly analyse, classify and take measures against them.
- Incident Response:
Not only is it important to detect and respond to incidents quickly, it is also important to thoroughly investigate situations to ensure any loopholes are address in an organisation’s security protocols. This requires strategic skills in incident management, like creating Incident Response Plans (IRPs).
Data analytics is the process of collecting, transforming and organising data to gain insights, identify patterns and make strategic decisions. Data is virtually everywhere with individuals and businesses are using it every day.
As how we interact with each other and businesses becomes more elaborately digital, many companies are investing in their data analysis function to inform strategy. The pandemic also accelerated the need for businesses to adopt more business intelligence tools across various industries.
Even though the business intelligence market is projected to reach a CAGR of 9.2% by 2026, research shows that the UK is particularly short on professionals with skills in analytics.
Popular data analytics processes:
- Data mining:
This involves the analysis of large datasets, using statistical techniques like clustering, association analysis and regression analysis to identify trends in data.
- Machine learning
Using algorithms to learn from data and make predictions or decisions based on the information is considered ‘machine learning’. Machine learning jobs have increased by 75% over the past 4 years and is considered a high-paying career which will stay in demand.
- Predictive analytics
This is the practice of using previous data to make predictions on future outcomes or trends. This usually involves building predictive models.
While the above skills are popular, new trends may emerge in the market any day. The utilisation of AI in digital processes is one example of recent sector trend gaining popularity, poised to shake up the skills market.
While technical skills are vital to a contracting career in IT, it is also important to consider developing soft skills too, as these are just as high in demand as hard skills. A survey conducted by The Harris Poll revealed engaging contractors with strong soft skills is essential for building successful , flexible teams. Businesses found dependability, communication and willingness to learn to be the most essential, with 77% of employers revealing they value soft skills just as much as hard skills.
Professional contractors who are more proactive at reviewing their CVs and keeping their skills up to date will be in high demand for the many new opportunities cropping up in the IT sector.
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