Monday, 15 February 2016

The 25 hottest skills to target in 2016

 By Sarah Morgan

If you work in IT, chances are, you have a profile on the world’s largest professional networking platform, LinkedIn. Over at LinkedIn HQ, the Data Analysts have been hard at work collecting and analysing data from some 400 million members. The end result is a list of the 25 hottest skills in 2015 as found in LinkedIn.

This list has produced some interesting results. We have been talking about the growing demand for IT skills being on the rise for some time, but LinkedIn’s list quantifies the rise in a global and market-wide context. These skills have been measured throughout 2015, including the end of the year, meaning that many of these skills will continue to trend into 2016 and beyond.

What’s new?

Looking at the global list, most striking is the entry of cloud as the most in demand skill in 2015, a skill not present in the 2014 list. IT related skills dominate the list with 19 out of the 25 being IT focused. Thus, solidifying IT skills as the best to target acquiring in 2016.

Aside from IT, demand for skills in areas including marketing, and corporate law and governance also feature.

The rise of cloud technology

As mentioned, the most significant addition to LinkedIn’s 2015 list is cloud and distributed computing skills – entering the list at the top position. It’s safe to say that 2015 was the year of the cloud. Furthermore, 2016 is shaping up to be just as fruitful for those with cloud skills.

Cloud technology has become important to so many businesses, and along with this trend, skills to migrate to and maintain cloud platforms have become highly sought after. This move towards the cloud is driven by businesses looking to make their servers cheaper to run, more flexible, more accessible and more recoverable. Businesses now require specialists in their chosen platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and HP Cloud. As cloud skills are still in short supply, those with the requisite skills are in high demand.

Cloud technology is not so new that it wasn’t around in 2014. The reason why it makes its list debut in 2015, is there simply weren’t enough people on LinkedIn with cloud skills for it to make the 2014 list. This perfectly highlights the shortage of cloud skills. This means getting these skills with certification courses like Microsoft MCSE: Private Cloud, Microsoft MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect, (ISC)² Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) and MCSA: Linux on Azure will make you a valuable asset to your business or potential employer.

Dominance of IT skills

Having touched upon the dominance of IT skills in LinkedIn’s list, it is also the variety of these IT skills that is interesting. They range from the aforementioned cloud technology, to network and information security, to coding and scripting languages like Perl, Python, Ruby and Java. These skills, in conjunction with others, cover the entire spectrum of IT and development skills, which means this rise is not an anomaly - the industry is growing as a whole.

It’s also important to mention data in IT. As the top skill in 2014, it has carried over well into 2015 and early 2016 in the second position. This demonstrates the continued importance of data in business and beyond. Being able to manage and analyse data are vital skills that businesses require. For example, the role of Data Scientist was hailed as the hottest job title in 2015. The skill also consistently ranks highly among all the countries LinkedIn analysed.

Make the most of the need

It’s important to remember that each of the skills in LinkedIn’s list has massive potential because of the value to employers and for the growth of your personal skills and knowledge. Perhaps you’re already in IT and a particular skill would help broaden the abilities of the team you manage or your own role.

Getting certified in these areas can help you achieve and demonstrate your skills. Whichever of the 25 skills in which you want to improve, there is a certification to help you succeed. Check out the list below to find out what certifications are most applicable to the skill you’re interested in.

1. Cloud and Distributed Computing

2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining 

5. Middleware and Integration Software

6. Mobile Development
8. Storage Systems and Management 
11. Date Engineering and Date Warehousing
12. Algorithm Design
15. Mac, Linux, and User Systems

21. Database Management and Software
22. Software Modelling and Process Design

This eye-opening list is a fantastic indicator of what skills are in high-demand with employers. Now is the time to take advantage of these skill deficits.

Demand for these skills is likely to continue in 2016, especially areas like cloud technology. Equally, we’ll probably see the rise of new areas of skills in 2016 – some that may be very surprising like.

For further detail, here is a list of the top 25 skills of 2015 specific to the UK.

About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.