The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a spotlight on employment. Tens of millions of jobs have been lost, and while the impact is different for every industry, every industry is definitely impacted in some way. Technology jobs have shown some resiliency during this time, especially since digital operations are necessary for business survival and also the best option for building innovative new processes. CompTIA’s Cyberstates report, based on data collected before the pandemic started, provides a look at the past trajectory of IT jobs, giving us a starting point for what might happen in the future.
10 Years of IT Job Growth
One new part of the 2020 Cyberstates report is a review of the previous decade. From 2010 to 2019, 2.3 million jobs were added across all tech occupations. This covers all jobs within the technology industry (including jobs such as sales or HR at tech firms) as well as all IT professions across every industry.
The second part of that equation—the high-tech roles within every company—accounted for 80% of the job gains. This reflects the growing importance of technology for businesses of all types.
A few different areas stand out when looking at the specific occupations that grew over the past decade. As far as raw growth, software development was the big winner, adding 504,000 jobs. Companies have been moving away from packaged software toward doing their own development as they aim for greater customization and automation.
After software, the largest raw growth came in IT support, which added 265,000 jobs. This traditional starting point for IT careers is still in high demand, and the CompTIA A+ certification is a proven tool for building the skills needed for this role.
In terms of percentage growth, cybersecurity analysts saw tremendous growth of 134%. At the beginning of the decade, dedicated cybersecurity specialists were usually only found in the largest organizations.
But as cybersecurity has become more critical for digital business operations, more organizations are investing in specific skills that protect their data and that of their customers. In response to this shift, CompTIA has built a comprehensive set of cybersecurity certifications to address new skills like threat intelligence and penetration testing.
The Future of IT Jobs
Predicting the future is always a tricky proposition. In this environment, it’s nearly impossible. The high degree of uncertainty leads to inaccurate models, and the situation is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to gather stable data. However, some guesses can still be made based on the general trends from yesterday and the critical needs of tomorrow.
A recent report from the tech career hub Dice examined job posting data from February and March to get a very early take on how employers were shifting their hiring priorities. As expected, the overall picture is a mixed bag, but there are still signs of resiliency for tech jobs compared to other careers.
Looking specifically at skills, the Dice report states that “[e]mployers are very interested in skills that contribute to the maintenance and shifting of a company’s technology infrastructure.” These activities are related to the dual components of modern IT: Tactics and strategy. CompTIA’s research on Using Strategic IT for Competitive Advantage described these two components, and they act as the bridge between the past and the future of IT.
Although the migration to cloud computing and the focus on emerging technology have drawn attention away from traditional infrastructure roles, they are still the bedrock for digital transformation.
The Dice report reveals that infrastructure skills like Linux, UNIX and systems engineering ranked among the top skills in job postings for Q1 2020. Furthermore, systems engineering saw the biggest increase in demand across all skills between February and March, the time when companies were just beginning to address the impacts of the pandemic.
Even at the most basic level, technology maintenance remains top of mind for most businesses. The possibilities of bring your own device (BYOD) and the increasing tech savvy for business-level employees led some to wonder if the role of tech support or help desk would fade. In reality, the growing corporate appetite for technology has created even more demand for IT pros who are well versed in all facets of technology, from infrastructure to cybersecurity.
The strong growth that we have seen in tech occupations over the past decade may hit a small speed bump as companies respond to COVID-19 disruption. But with businesses relying on digital tools for current operations and accelerating digital transformation for future strategy, IT infrastructure skills will continue to be a top priority.
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