Stroll through any college campus asking new students what they're studying, and there's a good chance the answer is Computer Science or some variation on the theme. That's because the tech industry is booming in America, and with unemployment the lowest its been in 50 years, companies are clamoring to scoop up well-qualified talent for non-executive tech roles.
It probably doesn't come as a surprise to you that tech is in demand. However, if the technology industry has taught us anything, it's that modern-day career development doesn't adhere to the rules of generations past. People change jobs more frequently and for different reasons than they once did. So how are today's top companies finding and acquiring tech talent? Here are seven trends we've noticed for 2019.
1. Quality Is on Everyone's Radar
Not surprisingly, hard skills remain valuable in the world of tech. Engineering roles make up half of the top 20 positions cited by Indeed in a recent blog piece. The software test engineer role has moved into the top spot from the number eight position in 2018 and is closely followed by the Quality Assurance engineer role in the three spot. This emphasizes the growing importance of bug-free, functional software right out of the box. An industry that has traditionally allowed its consumers to do some of the testing is maturing, and only those who can provide quality products will survive.
2. Workplaces Are Becoming More Diverse
Progressive rallying cries from the #MeToo movement are heard loudly in the HR office. However, tech remains a field that is mostly dominated by young white males. Expect to see a step away from this in 2019 with offices seeking to diversify in hopes they can earn kudos from consumers by advertising their diverse workforce. It may be less important in offices without public exposure, but as you know, social media can make the world a small place.
3. AI Skills Are Getting Better and Better
The phrase artificial intelligence (AI) gets kicked around in pretty broad terms. Typically, when we see AI, what we're are talking about is machine learning. Both machine learning and broader AI are moving toward real-world applications, which means AI-related skills will determine which of the tech world's sweetheart developers can demand the highest prices. Expect to see C++, R, Python and Java skills fetching premiums.
4. Cybercrime Isn't Slowing Down
Cybercrime is poised to become nastier, while at the same time more and more of our information is moving online and being shared over cloud repositories. 2019 will be a year when many companies re-evaluate how they protect data and infrastructure. That means security-focused positions such as IT Security Specialists and Network Security Analysts will come in high demand. Those with Certified Information Security Systems Professional (CISSP) and ethical hacking skills will be ideal to fit these roles.
5. Businesses Are Prioritizing Employee Retention and Upskilling
Companies will be looking to keep high-potential workers on the team and defend against poaching with margins so tight in 2019. Clear paths of advancement and opportunities for professional development will be high on the list of things new employees look for. In situations where a more senior person leaves the company, that will mean an opportunity for significant steps forward for less senior people with the ambition to learn new skills. Employees with robust skill sets should lean on the high demand for talent to exact a higher price.
6. Product People Still Matter
Products can make or break a company, so it's no surprise that the same Indeed list we cited earlier still includes the Product Owner, Technical Product Manager and Principal Product Manager roles. These are positions that cannot so easily transition from one company to another the way a software developer might. A good Product Manager needs to spend time getting to know their product and how to best leverage the teams around them to make it a winner.
7. Automation Is Changing Roles, But Not Replacing Them
We can all relax for another year — computers won't be replacing many human jobs in 2019 — however, the fourth industrial revolution is coming. At the moment, automation is more effective for increasing efficiency and helping inform business decisions. So, it's not a matter of replacing people, necessarily, but if you can't keep pace with the way new interfaces work or don't want to get on board with a data-driven business philosophy, you could be facing replacement.
Tech Is Thriving in 2019
Everything we've covered here points to growth in the technology sector in 2019. Tech positions now account for nearly one in 10 American jobs, and few industries are showing the kind of growth that tech has. In some ways that means tech jobs will become more "normal." The engineers and software developers of the world will be forced to develop soft skills to compete in a market where more and more people have competitive skill sets. Management roles and non-developmental roles are falling in popularity. If you're wearing that hat, it might be time to invest in some extracurricular programming classes.