Australia’s IT professionals are doubting their skillsets, research has found, as they look to answer the question – which skills really matter?

According to the IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow, commissioned by IT management software provider SolarWinds, 84% of Australia’s tech professionals are not “completely confident” that they have the right skillset moving forward.

And the survey, which interviewed 150 Australian tech practitioners, indicates this can be attributed to a variety of factors.

Firstly, the visible rise of emerging technologies has left tech pros questioning themselves.

The top three technologies that respondents stated they felt unequipped to manager were AI, quantum computing and machine and/or deep learning.

Head Geek at SolarWinds, Patrick Hubbard, said despite the concerns, some of these skills are now in reach.

“Most tech pros learn best hands-on, but only now are (mostly free) learning sandboxes available for AI/ML and quantum,” Hubbard told Information Age.

“Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others have recognised that machine learning is as useful to enterprise as research scientists, but enterprises don’t staff ops with mathematicians.

“In 2019 IT pros have lots of options to learn not just the language(s) of AI/ML, but enough data science to apply these technologies against the mountains of dusty data enterprise has been hording for years.”

Despite an apparent thirst to learn skills relating to these emerging technologies, the majority of respondents focused their training elsewhere in the past 12 months.

Skills in hybrid IT deployment/management (48%), systems and infrastructure management (43%) and coding and scripture (43%) were the most prioritised skills in the last year.

Additionally, 97% of respondents had worked on developing at least one skill in the same period.

Coding for change

Hubbard said that coding in particular is starting to transform in its value to tech professionals.

“They’re learning how to code,” he said about workers.

“Not become programmers – that’s not what most ops teams came to IT to do – but to take the first step beyond scripting.

“They’re learning the ecosystem of git, IDEs, build, debugging and deployment. They’re finding the tools of developers to be helpful getting the job done, but aren’t reading books on design patterns.”

Data is also continuing to leave its footprint on the industry.

Hubbard identified data awareness – which he labelled “the pragmatic cousin of data science” – as the fastest growing skill among tech professionals.

“Businesses are finally accepting the fact that their data is their business, and technology pros aren’t just maintaining it, but are beginning to organise and analyse it,” he said.

“They’ve been data custodians for decades and when its caretakers find the sweet spot between data janitorial and PhD research, tech pros offer what businesses really need.

“Data is what makes a business special, and the tech pros closest to it have an opportunity to distill their organisation's uniqueness for maximum competitive advantage.”