In 2017 we will see more digitalisation, more automation, and more connection than ever before. Research suggests that nearly half of all hiring managers expect to increase technology talent hiring this year and I predict excellent prospects for skilled IT professionals.
Here are the top 5 hot topics for the UK technology job market in 2017.
1. Brexit and UK technology
On the 23rd of June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union which lead to a great deal of speculation as to what impact this will have on UK technology and other industries.
The UK technology sector in general expressed fears over Brexit’s negative implications for IT jobs, investment and growth. For technology companies and investors the greatest concerns are what Brexit means for their ability to hire talent and tap investment. As far as employers are concerned, the two main benefits of being an EU member are access to talent and the ability to ‘passport’ regulation.
In spite of Brexit, reports predict that London’s digital sector will remain strong, digital technology jobs in the UK’s capital are forecast to grow by almost a fifth (18.5%) over the next ten years, taking employment in the sector to 284,400 jobs by 2026.
Whilst certainty is beneficial for all, the IT industry is so far proving resilient and optimistic moving into 2017.
2. Big data experts will thrive
The utilisation and application of big data and, in particular, connected data is expected to be a very hot technology topic. Individuals with business intelligence and big data experience are therefore expected to be sought after this year, with 36% of participants of a recent survey setting out plans to recruit people with this type of expertise.
According to the survey, this is on the back of a growing awareness among employers about how their businesses stand to benefit from having access to big data analytics tools and skills. Lee Allen, sales director of careers platform Jobsite, said demand for big data skills is particularly high from employers in fields such as FMCG, media, automotive and manufacturing, with employers competing to secure top talent.
3. Employers will be crying out for cybersecurity professionals
Cyberattacks are increasing exponentially in all sectors and the cybersecurity skills gap is fast emerging as the biggest security threat to 21st century Britain. High profile attacks on Tesco Bank and broadband provider TalkTalk received a great deal of media attention and were very damaging to both investor and consumer confidence. The methods and technologies for countering these threats are having to advance at pace.
A recent article stated that many companies are investing in this defensive technology, but they desperately need the talent to implement the systems. Financial services firms are currently leading the recruitment drive for cybersecurity professionals, however organisations like BT are also grabbing as much of the talent as they can get. BT took on some 800 new hires in its cybersecurity practice in 2016 alone. In addition, initiatives such as the National College of Cyber Security are trying to close the current skills gap by providing training to current IT professionals. The free-to-attend school will take on the UK’s best and brightest cybersecurity prodigies to create the cybersecurity talent pool of the future.
Not surprisingly, a study suggests that IT professionals with a background in cybersecurity will be in highest demand in the UK this year. 54% of respondents stated that they plan to embark on recruitment drives in this area and competition among employers to secure the best candidates will continue to be fierce.
4. AI and automation to replace IT workers?
Another significant technology trend is the increasing use of automation, artificial intelligence and robotics.
In terms of technology replacing jobs, IT is generally doing most of the automating. But could IT itself become a target? US Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla stated that in 20 years, 80% of the current IT workforce including IT support and operations could be replaced by AI type systems.
Accountancy firm Deloitte also predicts that robots will replace humans performing repetitive and highly-structured tasks in the not too distant future. According to one of their insight reports robots could replace a fifth of jobs in administrative roles such as telecoms and IT by 2035 as falling technology costs and rising wages make automation increasingly attractive.
However, don’t be too alarmed, the next-generation infrastructure will also create ‘human’ jobs in new areas that will be needed to run the algorithms that might replace today’s jobs. This will include roles in artificial intelligence, big data, automation engineering and software architecture.
5. Salary trends
The IT skills gap will continue to have an impact on salary and retention policies for IT professionals in 2017. Jobsite states that 41% of Chief Information Officers will increase IT professionals’ salaries, and 20% expect to pay extra bonuses. Organisations recognise that they will need to pay competitive salaries to secure IT professionals with desirable skills. As demand for cybersecurity experts by far outstrips supply, organisations are likely to have to improve packages offered to security professionals. For example, out of the top ten best paid IT roles it is Chief Information Security Officers that will see the biggest salary rises this year with an average increase of 4%.
In summary, the UK technology sector is still a great place to be and 2017 is promising to be a very exciting year for ambitious IT professionals with the right skill set.
As always, do not hesitate to contact us for any IT careers or talent sourcing advice.
Have a healthy and successful 2017!