Old-School Skills Continue to Top Employer Wish Lists

Which skills are trending in tech? According to a new analysis of Burning Glass/NOVA data, the “old school” stalwarts are still going strong: DevOps, C++, Python, and software engineering top the list.

Burning Glass’s Nova platform analyzes millions of active job postings. That gives it a bit more insight into granular skills trends than, say, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Here’s the full breakdown of the tech skills currently in demand by employers, along with the year-over-year change:

As many readers have pointed out over the years, there’s a core problem with lists like this: A “skill” like Microsoft PowerPoint doesn’t really compare to something like Python, DevOps, or C++. But as long as these huge data platforms vacuum data from millions of job postings, then break down and analyze the skills and jobs in those postings, we’ll face this issue; an algorithm isn’t going to differentiate between a programming language or word-processing software.

Casting a bit of an analytical eye on these latest rankings, we can definitely draw some conclusions. Let’s focus on the programming languages: While new, buzzy languages such as Kotlin and Swift usually command the lion’s share of blog and media attention, it’s clear that employers actually want aged “stalwarts” such as C++, Python, and JavaScript.

And that’s not surprising at all. For starters, lots of companies have mountains of legacy code that must be handled and updated; a borderline-infinite number of tools and products are built in these older, ubiquitous languages. As a result, demand for these skills is only increasing.

Speaking of software, it’s clear that employers have a huge appetite for developers. Software engineering, Agile development, and software development were among the top ten skills (along with technical support). That’s good news for any students or new graduates who are focusing on software development, and potentially worried about their prospects on the open job market—employers still need software built, tweaked, launched, and debugged. They also need infrastructure looked after, which is why DevOps is another one of those positions where demand is only increasing.

7 Responses to “Old-School Skills Continue to Top Employer Wish Lists”

  1. Guest

    DevOps isn’t “old school.” It’s this week’s management buzzword, replacing “Cloud,” which was the replacement for the prior week’s buzzword, “Agile.”

    • Yeah, I am an “Old” IBM Mainframe, ALC programmer and have had one gig in the last couple of years. It was fun and didn’t pay to badly. That is what I consider old school. I also wrote COBOL, Fortran, PL/1, Channel Programming (EXCP) and BSL (IBM Basic Systems Language) going back to the early sixties. Those were the fun days, reading core dumps, understanding machine code (can’t get any lower level than that, etc. No peer reviews. Just wrote good code and made sure that it was totally solid before going into production and shared information with anyone who needed the help. Still looking for mainly ALC jobs and have some possibilities.

  2. Jonathan Winters

    DevOps: isn’t that something we’ve being doing for the last 20 year or so? Now it’s something new?

    Python: I looked at a tutorial. It was called a “beginner’s language.” I agreed. Where did C# go?

    Micorosoft Office: I’ve started seeing that in the list of requirements. I have no idea what it means. Is it supposed to be asking if I can use a keyboard?

    C++: Is that pile of programmatical razor wire making a comeback? I once had to fix an app that a sister company had gotten to the point where it was no longer maintainable because of rampant operator overloading. Google “fake c++ interview” and read the fake interview with Bjarne Stroustrup. It’s a hoot, but, then again, you have to wonder. It has way too much truth in it.

  3. Douglas Wade Goodall

    I found this an interesting read. I have been actively looking for my next software engineering position for some time now. My skills listed include plenty of experience with C & C++ & Python.

    But all too often, job postings are Microsoft specific or want full-stack web development with multiple frameworks.

    I made a decision a few years ago to pursue development with open source, non-proprietary languages, focusing on code portability, reliability, and maintainability.

    So I continue to network, revise my materials skills to enhance my viability. Udemy is my friend.

  4. Martin

    The ability to read machine code and core dumps (also basic skills when I started in Information Technology Services in 1980) aren’t wasted. All software is still broken down to a version of this before the computer can execute it. That means you know how the computer works. Today youngers use 4GL software drag and drop or point and click. If the software doesn’t clearly indicate the error they require technical support. Also banks and insurance companies aren’t running away from mainframe. You can focus your job search there