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10 hottest tech skills for 2016

Mary K. Pratt | Dec. 8, 2015
Gunning for a banner year in IT? Make sure you have these skills in your toolbox.

Ready to dive into the 2016 job market? Here are the 10 skills on track to be most in demand, according to IT pros who participated Computerworld's Forecast 2016 survey.

1. IT architecture

* 42% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* New to the list this year.

The top 10 list starts off with a surprise. Although IT architecture is a fundamental area of expertise for techies at all levels and in various roles, it rarely makes anyone's list of hot skills.

The term "IT architect" encompasses a wide range of specialists, from enterprise architects to cloud architects, so recruiters say it makes sense that IT architecture expertise is in demand as companies move forward with all sorts of technology-driven projects.

Michael J. Sylvester II, CIO for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services, manages about 400 staff members and another 500 or so IT contractors. He says that the mix includes a lot of people with strong IT architecture talent but adds that "we still look for people with a firm grasp of enterprise architecture. We want those folks to look at industry standards and frameworks, and to set those up so we can have uniformity."

Sylvester says he wants IT architecture professionals with technical chops who have progressed from deep technical positions into more managerial roles so they can lead teams tasked with driving IT projects forward.

Many organizations are seeking a similar mix -- professionals coming from sysadmin, engineering and senior engineering roles, says Tyler Mikkelson, a recruiting team lead for the Los Angeles office of Mondo, an IT recruiting firm.

"They're gifted technically [and] they have strong business acumen, so they can speak to executives and C-suite individuals," he says.

2. Programming/application development

* 40% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year's ranking: No. 1

Despite fears that programming expertise is a commodity that can be obtained cheaply offshore, programming and application development continue to be among the most sought-after skills in enterprise IT.

"Technology touches everything today, and programmers and developers -- they're the ones who make things go," says Jason Hayman, research manager with TEKsystems, an IT staffing, talent management and services firm.

Demand for programmers and developers is springing up in new areas, too, thanks to the rise of mobile and the emergence of the Internet of Things. Hayman points to the fact that some cars now come off the assembly line with a million lines of code as just one example of how programming's footprint is widening.


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