Forecast 2014

8 hot IT skills for 2014

Help desk staffers are coveted, but developers are the hottest commodity of all.

When it comes to overall job prospects for IT professionals, 2014 will look a lot like this year, with 32% of companies expecting to increase head count in their IT shops, compared with 33% in 2013, according to Computerworld's annual Forecast survey.

But while demand will remain steady overall, there have been a few changes in the skill sets most desired by hiring managers. Unemployment "is probably close to zero for people with high-demand skill sets," says Michael Kirven, founder and CEO of Mondo, a technology resource provider. Employers in search of top skills, he says, need to be prepared to move fast. "If you want them, you can be 100% sure there are at least two other firms that want them, as well," he says.

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Data from 2014 Forecast Survey (Base: 221; June 2013), 2013 Survey, 2012 Survey, 2011 Survey and 2010 Survey. Mouse over graph to get data details; click on items in chart key to turn them on and off.

Here's a look at the IT skills that will be in demand next year, according to companies with plans to hire IT professionals in 2014.

1. Programming/application development

49% of respondents said that they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Last year's ranking: No. 1

As it did in the 2013 Forecast survey, programming/application development tops the list of hot skills, although just under half of the 221 respondents said they will hire in this area, compared with 60% last year. Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings, parent of IT jobs website Dice.com, concurs that software developers are the most sought-after technology workers and notes that they enjoy one of the lowest unemployment rates around -- just 1.8%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's no wonder, then, that respondents to the Computerworld 2014 Forecast survey named developer and programmer job openings as the most difficult to fill. The hottest specialties within that category, Melland says, are mobile development expertise and experience building secure applications.

Carbonite, an online backup service provider, expects to find a tight market for software developers and engineers as it shifts its business model to focus on the needs of small businesses, says Randy Bogue, vice president of talent at the Boston-based company.

"While there are a lot of experienced software developers in the Boston area, there are just as many technology companies looking to hire them," he says. "We find this while looking for front-end developers, user experience engineers, mobile developers and pretty much any other software development position."

Lucille Mayer, CIO at BNY Mellon, also expects to have difficulty finding developers. The financial services company has several hundred openings, mainly in New York City and Pittsburgh, and about 40% of those are in development. Another 30% are in infrastructure, 20% are for business analysis/project management positions, and 10% are in management.

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