Exponential growth in technology in the last 20 years has meant that it is now in the fabric of almost every area of business and society. The rate of this evolution offers opportunity as well as intense competition.
New research from Gartner highlights increased jobseeker selectivity, with many backing out of offers due to unmet expectations. It's a reality that's forcing employers to adapt and evolve.
Every year, GMAC conduct a Corporate Recruiters Survey with more than 1,000 leading firms, over half of which are Fortune 500 companies, to identify the most in-demand skills sought by employers. And this year, our findings revealed some shared opinions among tech employers regarding the skills that they are looking for and the talents that are lacking.
One thing is overarching, though: competition is fierce across the industry.
1. Cutting-edge skills: Web3, blockchain, and virtual reality
With such a significant increase in capabilities in these areas, it's not a surprise to see that 80% of respondents are actively recruiting graduates with expertise and experience working with Web3, blockchain, and virtual reality.
As these technologies continue their momentum, they create a demand for a new breed of professionals who understand their intricacies.
Web3's decentralisation challenges the traditional tech, necessitating expertise in decentralised application development and blockchain architecture. This shift presents career opportunities for developers, auditors, and consultants in the blockchain space.
Similarly, the growth of virtual reality opens doors for content creators and UX designers to become more heralded roles by tech companies as they specialise in immersive content. This could include virtual tours of historical landmarks, real estate, interactive educational experiences, and virtual gaming worlds; careers in these fields are becoming not only lucrative but also deeply influential in shaping the digital future.
You can expect more curriculums in higher education to reflect this; Gen Z, fast becoming the biggest market for higher education, don’t want general education and are much more particular about what they are being taught, set on it reflecting the type of roles they want careers in. For example, 47% of Gen Z necessitate their course have sustainability or corporate social responsibility components, because of the growth in these roles and sectors.
2. AI and machine learning
Reflecting the world's increasing interest in AI-powered solutions to tackle complex challenges, automate activity and fuel business growth, 74% of tech employers are actively seeking graduates who are proficient in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
AI is seeing massive continued investment, as well as notable societal discussion given its yet unknown future power, so it’s no surprise that this was reflected in our survey.
AI's appeal lies not only in its ability to automate routine tasks but also in its potential to solve complex, real-world problems. It's akin to having a tireless, data-driven assistant that can uncover insights, make predictions, and streamline decision-making.
The massive investments pouring into AI research and development reflect the faith in its transformative power, and we’re already seeing schools respond by creating tailored executive education for businesses and professionals.
But it’s not just the tech side of AI that’s important here – we’re expecting a huge growth in roles around AI’s societal implications too. Tech companies will be looking to expand teams around the ethical use of AI, and bias, especially as it relates to evolving government legislation. Ethics Officers, Bias Mitigation Specialists, and AI Compliance Auditors are just a handful of the newer roles seeing seeing tremendous growth and interest.
The uncertainty surrounding AI's future impact is precisely why it remains a focal point in the tech industry; everyone is racing to incorporate the technology into their work.
3. Cloud proficiency
Around 75% of tech employers place significant emphasis on candidates' competency in operating cloud-based technology. Cloud computing has become a foundational element of contemporary tech infrastructure, and companies are enthusiastic about hiring IT professionals who can efficiently leverage cloud services to enhance efficiency and scalability.
Importantly, job roles around cloud are diversifying; from cloud engineers and architects to DevOps specialists and cyber security professionals. And as cloud becomes more ubiquitous, the more we can expect new graduates to be recruited to help scale this work.
We can project that this will also further an already existing trend towards more practical education, with real-world cloud projects being taught in curriculums at a much lower level, allowing students to develop hands-on skills.
Cloud concepts will and are being integrated into programs beyond computer science, including disciplines such as business, healthcare, and engineering, to produce well-rounded graduates.
4. Non-technical skills
While technical skills are in high demand, tech employers also highlighted the significant importance of certain non-technical proficiencies, and that current pools of potential talent are often overly reliant on technical expertise and experience.
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Communication, data analysis, and strategic expertise, skills that are critical in many business roles, are deemed indispensable in tech. The modern IT professional is frequently required to engage with other parts of the business on a day-to-day basis, particularly when it comes to running internal staff training or reporting to senior stakeholders.
The message we're hearing from recruiters is clear: no matter how technically gifted a candidate is, if they are unable to show they are effective communicators they will struggle to engage with the wider business.
5. Global connectivity and cross-cultural competence
The report highlighted the escalating importance of global connectivity, fuelled by growing diverse communication channels. From new platforms to engage with customers, to the growing importance of multilingual consumer bases; every year we witness a growing diversification of tech marketplaces on the grounds of culture, language and location.
Consequently, we found tech employers are actively seeking people with multilingual abilities, active listening skills, and cross-cultural competence. These aptitudes enable professionals to collaborate effectively in an increasingly interconnected world, as tech companies are looking to fill in roles such as Language Technology Specialists, Localization Managers, and Multilingual Data Analysts.
Notably, the survey revealed that while tech employers believe candidates are reasonably prepared in multilingual skills, there are concerns about cross-cultural management.
As remote work becomes more established and workforces become more diverse, not only in terms of language and background but also in terms of nationality and geography, tech companies too, have recognised the benefits and importance of being able to communicate and work effectively with people from different cultural backgrounds.
This should not be confused with being able to speak the same language; it involves recognising the influence of diverse cultural backgrounds on a company's culture and adapting to them to work most efficiently. Understanding your team is vital to encouraging more productive results and fundamental to inclusive environments.
There you have it: Web3, blockchain, and virtual reality are leading the tech skill charge, with AI and machine learning chasing closely behind.
However, it's crucial not to overlook the significance of non-technical skills, which have the power to elevate a candidate from being solely a technical professional to becoming an effective business developer.
When we discuss staying ahead of the curve, whether you're a fresh-faced graduate or a seasoned professional, it's not just about mastering the tech; businesses want talent that embraces the art of being business savvy. Because let's face it, tech employers are not, ironically, in the market for human robots.
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Nalisha Patel is the Europe Regional Director at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a non-profit organisation established in 1953 that works with business schools worldwide by offering products and services to prospective students and their academic institutions. GMAC conducts market research on a regular basis, including the Corporate Recruiters Survey.
Before GMAC, Nalisha spent over 10 years working at London Business School.