Best Opportunities May be at the Top 10 List’s Bottom

Titanic Grand Staircase ReplicaJust when we’ve finished digesting the latest “Hottest Skills for IT” list comes another “Hottest Skills for IT” list, followed by another, then the next and the next and the next. There’s nothing wrong with such information, and it’s a perfectly reasonable exercise for recruiters, consulting firms and the trade press to take the temperature of the tech workforce and sniff out trends. Lately, however, the conventional wisdom behind these lists has me skipping past the top five and focusing down at the bottom, where things are often more interesting.

Here, for example, are next year’s hottest skills for IT, according to Computerworld. Each is followed by the percentage of IT execs who plan to hire for each in the next 12 months:

  1. Programming and application development — 60 percent
  2. Project management — 40 percent
  3. Help desk/technical support — 35 percent
  4. Security — 7 percent
  5. Business intelligence/analytics — 26 percent
  6. Cloud/SaaS — 25 percent
  7. Virtualization — 24 percent
  8. Networking — 19 percent
  9. Mobile Applications and Device Management — 19 percent
  10. Data Center — 16 percent

Nothing really jumps out here. Programming/app development is often at the top of such lists, and that’s where the crowds will rush. But look at the last two: mobile applications/device management and data center. There’s clearly a need to corral app dev experts who focus on enterprise-style mobile apps as opposed to the fun consumer stuff. That’s a trend that’s really worth pointing out.

At the same time, data center design and management is turning into the white-hot center of our cloud-centric future. Why it’s at No. 10 is a bit of a surprise, since you’d think every enterprise of a decent size had a stake in figuring this out.

Recently the New York Times took readers behind the scenes of huge data centers to demonstrate their inefficiencies (and managed to anger legions of IT folks who felt the writer got lots of the technological details wrong). It’s further proof that this is one area destined to move up the “hot skills” list in the months to come.

The bottom line: If you’ve got the right mix of skills, the end of the list may be a more promising place to look for work than the beginning.

Image: Wikimedia Commons