The pace of technology is moving so quickly that cyber security is no longer in the top 12 careers that will be in most demand in the future, recruitment firm Hays has predicted, as industry processes the outcomes of the federal government’s recent Jobs and Skills Summit.

Intended as a guide to help students and career switchers direct their careers to the areas of most demand, the company’s recent list of the most in-demand tech jobs of tomorrow spans the gamut from robotics and machine learning to user experience (UX) designers.

Developers working in the chart-topping blockchain industry “will be increasingly sought to ensure the security and integrity of data,” the firm has predicted, calling out demand that is accelerating based on large business investments, application of the technology to new use cases such as sustainability and NFTs, and cryptocurrency retail purchases.

UX designers, ranked second on the list, will become increasingly valuable as businesses continue to pivot towards completely digital customer interactions – requiring user interfaces that are effective, rich, and customer-focused.

Some of the skills on the list relate to specific technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) – demand for which “currently dwarfs future [supply]”, Hays noted – and robotics, which is gaining even more momentum as businesses address staff shortages and rising costs by embracing collaborative robots (or ‘cobots’) that work alongside human workers.

Software engineers, a perennial category of high demand, ranked fourth while cloud engineers, data scientists, machine learning engineers and mobile application developers are also predicted to remain in extremely high demand for the foreseeable future.

Demand will be particularly pointed in Australia, where many companies remain laggards in areas like analytics and AI and CIOs are ramping up their skills investments to remain competitive.

What happened to cyber?

Yet despite the long-time primacy of cyber security – and recent moves to better target its skills gap by updating the government’s ANZSCO classification system – its omission from the list reflects just how quickly demand for the dozen listed skills has surged in an era of increasing digital transformation.

Although cyber security practices are necessarily a part of many of the other fields, conventional incident-response, security monitoring and forensics jobs – such as those now delineated in ANZSCO – were ignored in favour of DevSecOps and AppSec.

These two very specific security capabilities relate to the practice of ‘shifting left’ – integrating security best practice into software development processes from the beginning of the process, and ensuring that development, security, and operations engineers work in lockstep to maintain security.

“In a constantly evolving world of work, IT professionals must keep pace,” Hays regional director Robert Beckley said as the list was announced.

“If you’re planning your IT career path, maintaining a view of the skills employers will need in the years ahead will help shape your upskilling plan and future-proof your employability.”

Summit identifies demand peak

The list comes as the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit enervated discussion about the importance of progressive policy to rectify longstanding skills gaps that are increasing operational drag for a range of companies in IT and outside of it.

And while the IT sector wasn’t specifically called out for support in the official list of outcomes from the summit, many of the 36 immediate actions it spawned will positively impact the IT skills pipeline in other ways.

This includes measures such as 1,000 digital apprenticeships in the Australian Public Service; acceleration of skilled visa processing; an increase in the permanent migration program to 195,000 places; and extending by two years the visas of graduate students working in areas of verified skills shortages.

The government will also accelerate the delivery of 465,000 additional fee-free TAFE places; improve the participation of women in the workforce by bolstering programs such as the Australian Skills Guarantee, which will be given digital skills targets; align microcredential frameworks with labour market needs; and partner with the Tech Council of Australia to develop a free national virtual work experience program to build awareness of tech careers.

Also on the cards is a new Digital and Tech Skills Compact between businesses and unions, which will implement digital apprenticeships designed to help workers earn while they learn tech skills – an approach recently introduced with the joint industry-university Cyber Academy program.

The breadth of productive discussion has “genuinely exceeded even our most optimistic expectations for what we might be able to advance together,” Federal Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers said as the summit wrapped up, admitting that the event’s planners originally thought it would have been a “great” result to have a dozen outcomes.

The summit, Chalmers said, reflects “a genuine hunger for some real talk about our economic challenges, and a genuine appetite to see what we might be able to achieve if we work together.”

Hays' list of the 12 hottest jobs of tomorrow, in full:

  1. Blockchain developers
  2. UX designers
  3. IoT engineers
  4. Software engineers
  5. Robotics engineers
  6. Cloud engineers
  7. Data scientists
  8. Machine learning engineers
  9. Mobile application developers
  10. IAM engineers
  11. DevSecOps engineers
  12. AppSec engineers