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The Skills Needed to Work in Australia’s Tech Sector Are Changing Rapidly


Australia’s tech sector continues to evolve as employers demand a wider variety of skills. Job seekers are hard-pressed to stay ahead of the curve as new technologies and products transform the nature of tech work in Australia.

Key points:
  1. Tech now represents a larger share of job opportunities in Australia, up 12½% over the past two years. But the types of roles in the sector continue to change.
  2. Growth has been strongest for full stack developer, now Australia’s fourth-ranked tech occupation by postings. Agile coach has also grown at a fast clip.
  3. Employers are demanding flexibility in their workforces, with agile software development now ranking as the most in-demand tech skill. Multiple coding languages and programs such as JavaScript, .Net, HTML and CSS also feature prominently.  

The skills demanded of tech workers are every bit as dynamic as the technologies they work with. The sector is changing at a breathtaking pace. New technologies emerge requiring new skill sets, while others fade. Software developers, engineers and others in the sector have their work cut out to stay on the leading edge of new developments.

Using Indeed data on job postings, we can identify which tech occupations and which skills are rising most rapidly and reshaping the sector. In-demand occupations are those with the highest share of tech job postings today, while emerging occupations are those that have grown fastest over the past two years. Similarly, in-demand skills are those that appear most frequently in tech job postings, while emerging skills are those that have grown the most over the past two years.

Here’s what we found:

  • .Net developer, software engineer and front end developer are the three tech occupations in highest demand, accounting for over one-fifth of all tech roles.
  • The number of job postings for full stack developer per million postings has increased 227% over the past two years, making it the fastest-growing tech occupation. Job postings for agile coach and a number of engineering roles have also grown briskly.
  • Employers demand a variety of skills, with agile software development and JavaScript featuring prominently. While some skills are evergreen, others have mushroomed, helping transform the nature of work in the tech sector.
  • Over one-third of searches for developer-type roles come from overseas job seekers, much higher than the 9% share of all Australian job postings. Recent program changes announced by the federal government may make it easier to attract highly skilled tech workers from other countries following a sharp decline in skilled visas granted to tech workers in the second half of 2017.
The tech sector is changing rapidly

The number of tech-related job postings per million total postings was 12½% higher in the first three months of 2018 than in the same period two years earlier. The sector now accounts for 4% of Australian job postings. But that headline figure disguises the dynamism that characterises the tech sector. Some occupations are growing rapidly, while others are now  yesterday’s news.

Over the past two years, full stack developer has been the fastest-growing tech sector occupation. Full stack developers are jacks of all trades, expected to know multiple coding languages and be proficient at working on both an application’s front and back end. Increasing demand for these workers reflects the tech sector’s growing complexity and the need for employees familiar with each layer of software development.

Agile coach is another rapidly emerging tech occupation. That might sound like a job in a rugby league or Australian rules football team, but it actually refers to a type of project manager who follows the Agile approach that has come to dominate the tech industry landscape. A range of engineering jobs including reliability, cloud and quality assurance also rank among the fastest-growing tech occupations.

At the other end of the spectrum, job opportunities for sharepoint developers and android developers have tumbled, dropping 48% and 27% respectively over the past two years.

Among tech occupations most in demand, .Net developer ranks number one, accounting for 7.3% of tech jobs, ahead of software engineers, front end developer and full stack developer. .Net developer was also the top-ranked tech occupation two years ago, but its share of postings has fallen 17½% over that period.  

A number of occupations feature on both the list of in-demand and emerging tech jobs, including full stack developer and development operations engineer.

 

Evergreen and emerging skills in the tech sector

Work in the tech sector requires employees to be flexible and nimble, and that’s reflected in the skills employers demand. Agile software development ranks as the number one skill tech companies are seeking in new employees. And it is no surprise that the most prominent occupation demanding this skill is full stack developer, a job in which employees are required to be proficient in multiple coding languages.

A range of coding languages and tools, including JavaScript, .Net, HTML and CSS, are also in high demand. Occupations demanding these skills are concentrated: 25% of job postings calling for CSS skills are for front end developers, while 23% of jobs demanding .Net skills are for .Net developers. By comparison, full stack developer accounts for just 8% of jobs demanding agile software development skills, which means this skill opens a wider variety of career opportunities. Of course, many tech workers possess a range of relevant skills, providing them career flexibility.

 

Indeed job posting data show vividly just how highly skilled and rapidly evolving the tech sector is. Yet, despite the breakneck pace of change, some skills that feature prominently in job descriptions for a  broad range of tech roles are evergreen–as relevant today as they were two years ago. The top four skills in demand–agile software development, JavaScript, Java and .Net–were among the most popular skills two years ago, though in a different order.

Although some skills are evergreen, new skills continue to emerge. Capability in React, a JavaScript library used to create user interfaces in applications, rarely appeared in job descriptions two years ago. Now though it is among the ten most in-demand tech skills. Demand for proficiency in cloud operations, such as Microsoft’s Azure, has also grown rapidly over the past two years.

For job seekers, changing demand for tech skills presents both an opportunity and a threat. Those who are proficient in programs and languages such as  React or Azure are likely to find great job opportunities that scarcely existed two years ago. However, others who meet the requirements for occupations now on the decline may find their skill sets are out of date. For example, a front end developer who is not React proficient may be at a distinct disadvantage today.

Increased interest in foreign tech talent

The dynamic nature of the tech sector, with new skills regularly emerging, can create mismatches between the opportunities employers are offering and the skill sets of domestic job seekers. When workers with the right skills cannot be found inside the country, employers turn to foreign talent. In 2018, overseas job seekers accounted for over one-third of all searches for developer roles, including half of all searches for JavaScript developers. That’s much higher than the 9% foreign share of all Australian job searches.

Changes made last year to Australia’s skilled migration program made it harder for tech firms to hire workers from other countries. From July through December 2017, the number of skilled visas for developer programmers fell 31%, software engineers 10% and analyst programmers 50% compared with the same period a year earlier. Australia’s tech sector expressed its alarm and the federal government responded by initiating a ‘Global Talent Scheme’ trial program beginning July 1. The new program is designed to ease hiring of experienced tech talent from other countries. Whether it will narrow the skills gap remains to be seen.