Tech skills highly valued by today’s employers, LinkedIn data shows

LinkedIn Corp. has released its annual list of the top 25 skills valued by employers – and at least 20 of them are tech-related, both in Canada and around the world.

Rather than “materials engineering” (number 15) or “economics” (number 24), LinkedIn researchers found that the 10 most sought-after skills in Canada include mobile development, network and information security, middleware and integration software, and data engineering.

Julie Dossett, LinkedIn’s communications lead for Canada, attributes this demand to a pair of factors: the growing role of technology in the business world, and a shortage of technically skilled talent.

“We’re seeing a real recognition of the strategic value that things requiring [technical] skills can have for an organization,” she says. “Look at data analytics – it’s been around for awhile but… suddenly people are talking about it at the boardroom table, which five years ago wasn’t happening.”

As usual, LinkedIn divided the results of its research into separate lists: one that incorporates global data, and 14 others for individual countries, including Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and China, with 16 tech-related skills appearing on both the global and Canadian lists.

Both worldwide and in Canada, 20 of the top 25 skills are directly tech-related, and even the ones that aren’t have been significantly altered (or exist in the first place) thanks to technology: “Economics” and “electronic and electrical engineering” appear on both lists, for instance, while in Canada integrated circuit design, computer graphics and animation, and materials engineering round out the top five non-tech skills.

Other technical skills high on Canadian employers’ wish lists include business intelligence, user interface design, and last year’s number one global category, statistical analysis and data mining, which this year came in at number one in Canada and number two worldwide.

If your first thought after reading all of that is that certain tech-heavy industries must be over-represented on LinkedIn, you’re not alone: Dossett initially thought the same thing, and decided to investigate.

“What’s become really clear as I dig around is that [tech industries] are not over-represented or disproportionate compared to other industries… but the competition for tech-skilled talent is really intense,” she says. “It doesn’t mean everyone is necessarily working in tech… but the demand for that type of skill is very strong right now, and has been for some time, and looking at the strength of the data, is going to be for awhile yet.”

With such tech-related positions as data analysis and mobile development suddenly having a seat at the executive table, enterprises from across the world, including Canada, are now investing heavily in their tech departments, Dossett says – and with a dearth of Canadian talent available, competition is fierce.

“Companies are really recognizing that no matter what sector they’re in… they live and die on the quality of their talent,” Dossett says. “And you couple that with… more jobs than individuals skilled enough to do them, and there are lots and lots of places for talent to move around, and we see a lot of that talent on LinkedIn.”

“We’re talking to colleges and universities, and they’re really grappling with how to build training that’s nimble enough to stay on top of this stuff,” she adds. “It’s really challenging.”

Globally, skills related to cloud computing soared in demand last year compared to 2014, when there weren’t enough members listing cloud-related skills for LinkedIn to include the category on its global list in 2014, former LinkedIn researcher Sohan Murthy wrote in a Jan. 12 blog post – though it should be noted that “cloud and distributed computing” still does not appear on this year’s list for Canada.

In addition to economics and electrical engineering, the top five non-tech skills worldwide in 2015 were marketing campaign management, channel marketing, and corporate law and governance.

You can read the individual lists, both globally and by country, below.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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