Are you on the wrong side of software-based disruption? Stay ahead with a career in software engineering

A standing man surrounded by many screens

2018 is the year software engineers delivered groundbreaking technologies such as immersive entertainment and 3D metal printing. According to the Department of Employment, the software and applications programming workforce has been forecasted to grow from the current total of 104,000 workers to 119,000 by 2022.

However, the projected growth is currently not being met with the required number of skilled software engineers in the market. As a result of the shortage of skilled candidates, software companies are finding it challenging to recruit top talent. Deloitte has reported that the net migration of software and applications programmers over the past two years has slightly increased to 6,800 from 5,000. In addition, the Australian Department of Education and Training further confirmed that the number of local graduates studying Information Technology (IT) has increased slightly to approximately 5,960 from 5,000 over the past couple of years. The government estimates that it is likely that about 60,000 job openings will take place over the 2017-2022 period, with 39% of the software engineering workforce currently located in New South Wales and 30% in Victoria.

Why are software companies struggling to find talent?

The shortage in the availability of skilled engineers is compounded by the fact that some candidates who apply for mid to senior level roles fail to pass a coding test. Research has linked this to university studies being overly theoretical and should instead impart practical software development processes or equip students on developing real world technologies with emerging software languages.

According to many employers, there is a gaping disparity between industry expectations and what is being taught at university. In order to bridge this gap, the government has stepped in and proposed a new digital technologies curriculum that will ensure that computer coding is taught in primary school. This is part of the $1 billion that has been allocated to multiple initiatives such as research funding and tax incentives to create a start-up culture and promote Australia as an innovation hub. However, while these incentives are set to secure Australia’s long-term future as a technology leader, the pressing issue still remains where software companies’ need for a growing workforce is not met by current market conditions due to a shortage of skilled engineers.

What can be done to attract more software engineers in the market?

We need to increase our local base of software engineers by encouraging a transfer of skill-sets, especially those with interest in the field. Universities backed by the government and the community as a whole should also encourage students to pursue a career in software engineering for multiple reasons. Marc Andreessen, Co-founder and General Partner of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz stated that “software is eating the world”. With demand outpacing supply, software companies are willing to compete with each other and offer better remuneration and benefits in order to secure top talent. On average, a full time software engineer in Australia would earn around $1,800 a week – which is much higher than the all jobs average of $1,230. The outlook of software engineers is very positive – rather than being affected by the rise of machines, software engineers would be in charge of running programs and ensuring that machines can operate autonomously.

What trends in the tech industry indicate the need for more software engineers?

1.   The demand for Blockchain developers is on the rise

Beyond digital currency and Bitcoin’s popularity, blockchain is a technology poised to disrupt every industry. Many legacy technology companies have introduced their own blockchain platforms and this year, we have seen them branch out and partner with banks, food distributors and government regulation agencies to put blockchain to use. This sets the precedence for businesses in the years to come where there is a need to engage with their customer base on blockchain platforms and to build their own apps to facilitate this. We expect that this will generate a substantial increase in the demand for blockchain developers. Online recruitment firm Glassdoor reported a 300% increase in job openings seeking people with blockchain skills in the United States whilst news website Cointelegraph reported a 50% increase in the number of roles related to blockchain across Asian markets including Australia and Singapore last month.


2.   Edge computing merges with Internet of Things (IoT)

From cars to Fitbits to the Google Home speaker in your lounge, nearly everything in our daily life has turned into a data-collecting device. IT companies today are increasingly using edge computing as a way to explore cheaper and faster methods of processing data. Edge computing has improved on traditional cloud computing by enabling mobile computing and IoT devices to process data themselves or through a local computer or server closer to the source, rather than being sent to a data centre. What this means for the end user – devices will be able to perform faster in real time hence removing time lag, which is especially important for technologies such as self-driving cars.

Edge computing also uses lesser internet bandwidth usage, thereby eliminating costs and ensuring that applications can be effectively used in remote locations like a deep-sea oil rig. As more companies turn to edge computing, we expect an increase in demand for database and network engineers to create and maintain the infrastructure needed. More businesses will also see the value of real-time analytics hence requiring the input of developers when working on business goals and strategies. We expect that edge computing is going to impact every layer of IT infrastructure – starting with cloud computing itself.


3.   Cyber security specialists will be one of the most important jobs

This year, major cyber security breaches such as the Page Up data breach affecting hundreds of thousands of Australians and the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica breach affecting at least 90 million people worldwide, have prompted many organisations to revisit their cyber security measures in place – hence calling for a higher demand of cyber security specialists in the market. According to the Crunchbase Unicorn Leaderboard, there are currently 5 cyber security startups worth over $1.39 billion, and more cyber security startups are expected to enter the market over the next one year.

We also have some clients looking to build security into their software with DevOps teams focusing on automating security testing into their software development lifecycle. In doing so, this will help prevent vulnerabilities during the development process. With the constant influx of new technologies, cyber security attacks are becoming more sophisticated and this leads businesses to consistently ensure their systems, operations and data are protected from potential cyber threats. Similar to blockchain and edge computing, we therefore expect that the demand for software engineers and developers within cybersecurity to continue increasing.


4.   Artificial intelligence (AI) will become an industry standard for big tech firms

It is common understanding today that businesses will have to embrace AI at some point, especially the big players, in order to remain competitive. In terms of how technology will impact companies, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has indicated that nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will reduce the full-time workforce by 2022. However, another 38% of companies surveyed are looking to extend their workforce and over 25% expect that automation will create new positions in the business.

In spite of machines becoming more omnipresent in the workplace, research conducted by WEF has further shown that there would be an increase in emerging professions such as software and application developers jumping from 16% to 27% by 2022. We expect that data scientists and Chief Data Officers (CDO) will be in high demand for a long time. Forrester predicts that following the influence of AI on business decisions, 50% of CDO’s will start to report directly to the CEO.


5.   Virtual reality (VR) to go mainstream

2017 marked the first year that VR headsets became commercially available. VR has become more common with headsets such as the HTC ViveOculus Rift and platforms like Google Daydream. Although still in its infancy, VR is likely to go through a lot of development over the next 10 years. Despite the slow response from the public towards VR products with a collective estimate of less than 1 million units sold, both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are set to expand further in the near future. For software engineers, this means that there is a big opportunity to be involved in a new technological era that is set to become highly relevant in the next decade.

Based on the five trends mentioned, we certainly see nothing but massive opportunities for software engineers over the next 10 years. Most of these trends will require more than just basic programming knowledge but with the relevant skillset such as the ability to code multiple programming languages, you will be set for a very interesting and long term career within software engineering.

Do you need help with accessing skilled software engineers?

At Progressive Recruitment, we understand that access to skilled talent can highly influence the pace at which your company can grow. The benefits of working with us is the support we can provide by working round the clock to help you locate talent within a short period of time. We have access to a global talent pool should you wish to employ talent from overseas as well. If you are looking to improve your team with skilled software engineers, please reach out to us at +61 02 9285 1000 for a confidential discussion.

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