The most in-demand IT skills in the UK

The IT labour market continues to boom, but the growing demand has left many employers struggling to fill vacancies. In the fast-changing technology sector, popular skills quickly can become outdated as new ones emerge to replace them, and the developments often leave a shortage of sufficiently qualified staff.

Whether you're an established IT professional or an aspiring one, the pressure to keep up with emerging tech and the growing demand for certain skills seems relentless.

Computerworld UKreviewed the latest reports from IT recruitment specialists Harvey Nash, Experis, Robert Half Technology and developer platform Stack Overflow, to name just a few, to find out which skill sets are most in demand for enterprise IT professionals right now.

Last year saw a rise in devops skills and open source frameworks, and while the top few skills - both in demand and the fastest growing - remained largely the same this year, some pretty exciting changes have been taking place lower down the list.

Here are the key skills to keep an eye on as you continue to develop your IT career.

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Devops

Devops

As it becomes the de facto operating model across UK enterprises, devops skills are still in hot demand.

This is reflected in the 2018 Devops Salary Guide from software vendor Puppet, which found that UK salaries are trending upwards.

The report states: "We are seeing marked increase in the middle of the range, however. This year, 26% of practitioners in the UK fall in the £57,000 to £76,000 range, up from just 17% last year." Currency is converted from $USD at the time of writing.

In the UK and Ireland, 49% of devops practitioners and managers earn between £39,000 and £78,000.

Kubernetes

Kubernetes

A previous IT Jobs Watch survey from Experis found that demand for Kubernetes skills had grown almost eight-fold in the past two years, with UK recruiters noting that skills for the container orchestration tool have leaped 729 places to enter the top 250 desired skills for the first time.

Research by CyberArk found that Kubernetes skills are more likely to appear in job ads than those for 'devops engineers' or 'developers'. Devops security lead at CyberArk Josh Kirkwood said in a statement that Kubernetes has "become a massive money word".

"These figures show that devops teams are seeking more skills to help them manage and deploy applications at scale," he added. "However, there is a very real danger that the rush to achieve IT and business advantages will outpace awareness of the security risks."

The median salary for the six months leading up to 19 June 2018 for jobs that contained 'Kubernetes' in the description was a respectable £65,000.

Big data analytics
iStock

Big data analytics

Demand for big data skills and professionals surged by 78% since 2017, according to the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report from IT recruitment specialists Experis, which came out in May 2018. This increase far outstrips demand for mobile (26%) and cloud (30%) expertise.

The research puts this jump down to the arrival of the general data protection regulation (GDPR), with Martin Ewings, director of specialist markets saying at the time: "A number of regulatory hurdles this year – including the much talked about GDPR – coupled with the growing Internet of Things trend, are putting pressure on businesses to better manage, process, secure and leverage their data."

According to the Robert Half salary guide for 2019, data scientist salaries will continue to rise this year as a result. In the 2018 guide the salary range across the UK was estimated at £63,750-£106,500. That has now jumped to £66,000 for the bottom 25 percentile of candidates, to an eye-watering £116,250 for the top 95 percentile candidates.

AWS

AWS

Developer portal Stack Overflow reported surging demand for AWS skills across the UK and Ireland last year, with the popular cloud computing platform jumping from 12th place to fifth and gaining a 10.3 percent share of the skills tags found in Stack Overflow's jobs listings.

On a more global level, learning platform Pluralsight found AWS was also its fifth most popular skill.

This demand is reflected in average salaries of £52,750 for AWS experts, to £65,000 for an AWS solutions architect, according to statistics on average annual salaries from PayScale.

A LinkedIn Learning blog post also detailed how, according to LinkedIn data, cloud computing skills, like AWS proficiency, came out as the most in-demand skill for 2019, with AI second and analytics coming in two and three.

Security

Security

With a well-publicised skills gap and a constantly shifting threat landscape, it should come as no surprise that cybersecurity skills remain in hot demand.

The Spiceworks' annual State of IT report for 2019 found that IT security/cybersecurity skills were the most sought after at the enterprise level, with 57% of large companies looking to bolster its security skills, with AI and networking coming in joint second at 35% of respondents globally.

AI

AI

Large enterprises (5,000+ employees) also proved more likely to seek out AI skills than smaller companies, with that proving the second most popular skill set amongst respondents of the Spiceworks State of IT report.

It's one of the most talked about technologies in the world, and last year the job site Indeed found that employer demand for AI-related roles has more than doubled over the past three years.

Python and other programming languages

Python and other programming languages

At a more granular skills level, the programming language Python continues to be in hot demand for 2019, as reflected in growing salaries which range from £64,155 a year for a senior Python engineer to £75,000 for a Python team leader, according to statistics on average annual salaries from PayScale.

According to the latest Developer Hiring Landscape report from Stack Overflow, which came out in May 2018, Python is the most in-demand programming language, with Go and Java Script rounding out the top three. Overall the most popular languages remain the likes of JavaScript, HTML and CSS though. Interestingly Koitlin and Rust proved the 'most loved' programming languages.

In previous reports JavaScript library ReactJS proved a big mover, overtaking popular skills such as SQL and Linux.

Learning and training platform Pluralsight also recently pulled data from its millions of global users, finding that Java and Javascript remain the two most popular skills amongst its user base, with HTML, C and Git following behind. Python came in seventh on its list.

Shrinking skills

Shrinking skills

On the flip side, Stack Overflow reported that PHP and HTML demand was falling fastest, with PHP declining 11 places into 16th place and HTML falling seven places to 15th.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.