Which drivers of change will affect their skills?
ICT is a general-purpose technology 4, and so changes and disruptions in the economy can have significant influence on the future skill demands for these professionals.
Overall, increased demand for highly-skilled ICT professionals is expected. However, developments in technology and value chains will likely shift the balance from technical ICT skills to sector-specific knowledge and soft skills such as management and planning.
As ICT penetrates more and more activities of the economy, numerous software applications have been and continue to be developed. This has enabled growth and success of various application developers/providers, often focusing on niche markets. Technological developments such as module applications empower skilled end-users in lieu of ICT professionals.
Additionally, ICT technical skills services are increasingly outsourced to non-EU, cheaper markets. EU professionals will need to have skills such as managing of supply chain in the context of ICT, in a variety of sectors.
On top of outsourcing, further digitalisation of economy will boost demand for people with deep knowledge of these sectors, who are able to develop efficient, custom-built ICT solutions for any company or organization, from health-care providers and sewage network companies to farms and logistics companies.
More powerful computers will increase the amount and the variety of the data generated 5
. The ‘Big Data trend’ should lead to an increased demand for strong data analytical skills and skills for scaling and managing the data for enterprises 6
. New occupations are expected to emerge, e.g. data scientists, data managers, and chief data officer 7
The shift towards cloud computing 8
has been slow, but is expected to accelerate for both enterprises and consumers. Cloud computing reduces the demand for technical knowledge on the part of its users, since services are outsourced to cloud providers 9
. This will mean that enterprises will need skills on service integration, service management, designing and managing clouds, and building and optimising cloud data centres.
As the research and industry investment in automation, such as in advanced robots, virtual personal assistants, autonomous vehicles (e.g. driverless cars), and smart-home hubs grows, there will be increasing demand for software and hardware expertise (with high levels of numeracy and domain knowledge) 10
. These professionals will be valuable both for established organisations, hoping to consolidate their market, as well as start-ups that challenge the status quo.
Likewise, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) 11
will drive demand for skills and occupations related to architecture and design, knowledge of and skills in handling diversified systems, and understanding of standardisation and interoperability between connected (and to-be-connected) systems. Technical knowledge of IoT networks, and skills for managing the multiple network configurations that are part of IoT networks, are also expected to be in demand.
As the various components of ICT infrastructure become more interconnected with the growth in “smart systems”, the threats posed by cybercrime and cyberterrorism 12
will expand beyond the conventional confines of computing systems. In particular, increased demand is foreseen for data science and analytics skills, paired with business acumen 13
. The demand for cybersecurity skills relating to both software and hardware systems will grow. Besides sector-specific expertise, these professionals will probably need to have high-level qualifications to meet the demands of the interconnected “smart” infrastructure systems of the future.
Risk of Automation: As a part of its Digitalisation and future of work project
, Cedefop estimates the risks of automation
for occupations. The most exposed occupations are those with significant share of tasks that can be automated – operation of specialised technical equipment, routine or non-autonomous tasks – and those with a small reliance on communication, collaboration, critical thinking and customer-serving skills. The risk of automation is further accentuated in occupations where employees report little access to professional training that could help them to cope with labour market changes. ICT professionals are reportedly an occupation with very low risk of automation.