What employers want: 2017’s most in-demand skills



LinkedIn recently unveiled their latest large-scale research project, pulling data and insights from all of the hiring and recruiting that has taken place on the site in 2016.

The study revealed the top ten skills that will get candidates hired in 2017 across 14 countries, along with up-and-coming trends in the global recruitment industry. Below, we provide the results for the international study, as well as for the country of South Africa.

Top ten skills

These skills are based on 2016 data, but according to LinkedIn Career Expert Catherine Fisher, “our data strongly suggests that tech skills will still be needed for years to come, in every industry. Now is a great time for professionals to acquire the skills they need to be more marketable.”

The ten skills most in-demand are listed below, with an indication of their ranking in LinkedIn’s list from the previous year:

1. Cloud and Distributed Computing (previously one on last year’s list)

2. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining (previously two on last year’s list)

3. Web Architecture and Development Framework (moved up six places from last year’s spot of nine)

4. Middleware and Integration Software (gained one place from last year’s ranking of five)

5. User Interface Design (ranked five places higher than last year’s spot of 10)

6. Network and Information Security (moved up one place from last year’s seven)

7. Mobile Development (previously at six, this skill is still in-demand globally)

8. Data Presentation (this skill is a new arrival on the list, previously not featuring at all)

9. SEO/SEM Marketing (while still in-demand, this skill decreased on the list from last year’s four to this year’s nine)

10. Storage Systems and Management (decreased two spots from last year’s eight).

How does the picture change in South Africa?

Within the South African recruiting market, the top ten skills look slightly different. For local employers, certain areas are more crucial.

  • Statistical Analysis and Data Mining, globally at two, is the most important local skill, according to recruiters.
  • Java Development features at two, although it doesn’t appear on the global top ten list.
  • Network and Information Security is ranked at three within South Africa and globally at the spot of six.
  • Locally Mobile Development is a higher priority than internationally, at a spot of four.
  • Perl/Python/Ruby is at five in SA, not featuring on the global list.
  • User Interface Design is in-demand in South Africa as well as globally, featuring at the spot of six locally.
  • Middleware and Integration Software is a priority in South Africa (seven) and globally (four).
  • Web Architecture and Development Framework is at the spot of eight, whereas internationally it comes in at three, implying that it is an up-and-coming skill in the local recruitment industry.
  • Mac, Linux and Unix Systems falls at nine in South Africa, and does not feature on the international list.
  • Public Policy and International Relations is one of the only skills that is not technical in nature, coming in at the spot of 10 in South Africa.

Global recruiting trends

Technology and the internet
One of the most clear trends is that technology and the internet is reigning supreme. All of the global skills on the top ten list rely on computers, software and automation as their basis. This makes sense when you consider that companies are increasingly looking to digitise their business, reduce the paper load, make things easier for customers and more.

Cloud computing
In recent years data mining and cloud computing has also become a crucial need for businesses. According to Fisher, “Cloud and distributed computing has remained in the No. 1 spot for the past two years … . Following closely on its heels is statistical analysis and data mining, which came in No. 2 last year, and No. 1 in 2014. These skills are in such high demand because they’re at the cutting edge of technology. Employers need employees with cloud and distributed computing, statistical analysis and data mining skills to stay competitive.”

New ways to represent data
Companies are now wanting to use their data in new and interesting ways. For the first time ever, data presentation and visualisation made the list of top skills. It is becoming more important to mine data, analyse findings and depict it in a way that it is easy to understand. The end result is insight that can be applied to business decisions.

The implications for recruiters

If you are working in the recruitment industry, this study can be applied to your talent management strategy for 2017. These skills are the most in-demand, and thus there is likely to be a large amount of competition from other employers in obtaining key talent. One approach to consider is the internal training and upskilling of existing employees.

The implication for job seekers

If you have any of the skills on this list, it is important to add them to your LinkedIn profile. This way recruiters can easily see your skill-set if they are actively seeking candidates. It is also wise to up-skill yourself in certain areas if you’re interested in developing into any of the technology-related fields.

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