This month, the DevOps institute has published a report from research conducted with over 1,600 respondents that found that DevOps skills are the highest in demand and the most difficult for organisations to find.

The ‘2019 Upskilling: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report’ highlights that automation skills, process skills and soft skills are the three most demanded categories within DevOps and that the following are the top five must-have skills within process skills: software development life cycle (47%); understanding of process flow and analysis (46%); Agile (42%); experience with test-driven deployment concepts and methods (40%); and system thinking (39%).

The driver for the demand in DevOps skills is unquestionably digital transformation – it’s taking hold of most organisations across all sectors and consequently skills are increasingly in demand. DevOps delivers a pivotal role in bringing successful digital transformation about requiring a partnership between IT and business leaders and helping to deliver the synergy between core technologies, services and products to support the organisation’s digital goals. The DevOps Institute research highlighted that 15% of research respondents were in the planning or initial stage of DevOps and 43% were already at adoption stage – and another 19% of respondents use DevOps widely across their entire enterprise. It’s an evolving eco-system where increasing digitisation means DevOps adoption gathers pace, in turn putting pressure on recruitment and increasing pressure on finding the right talent to fill the gap.

Bridging the gap

Access to tech talent in the UK is widely regarded as the primary challenge for organisation growth. Where technology leaders would like to hire, they are unable to find the right people to fill the roles. Finding quality and quantity of skills in combination is a massive challenge to deliver and many organisations need to resource for multiple delivery streams.

Over a third of digital technology businesses report that candidates are asking for money they can’t afford to pay. In the UK cities where talent exists, it’s in short enough supply that senior technology professionals can essentially name their price – which is exacerbating the high attrition in technology. Salaries aren’t the only factor; developers are keen to work on innovative projects whilst organisations have much more which they need to build and maintain. Tech hubs across the country such as Manchester are seeing huge technology players open new offices with dozens – sometimes hundreds – of digital roles to fill. Large brands are capable of offering high salaries, cutting-edge projects and a wealth of job benefits. This is attracting developers away from smaller organisations, shackling their ability to grow. In more isolated geographic areas outside of our major towns and cities, the skills simply cannot be found, and little can be done by organisations to attract talent into relocating or commuting.

Contract or nearshore?

Throughout 2018 the demand for IT contractors was strong – peaking at an annual high around May when the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) scored demand for temporary IT workers at 61.8, their biggest index score of the year. In October 2018, the REC highlighted the IT skills which were hardest to find on a temporary basis, making them the most sought-after IT contractors in the UK. They included many core software development disciplines – key areas topping the scarcity list included DevOps as well as AWS, data analysis, Java and PHP.

For these reasons the UK’s technology economy has seen an increase in temporary workers. Factors driving the shift are worker mobility, financial pressures on businesses and the importance of work-life balance for employees. These influences are making the days of the traditional office employment contract unappealing to professionals. Overall, software development contractors provide a low-cost, experience-rich alternative to full-time hiring, however this style of work presents challenges. They are more likely to feel unfulfilled faster than permanent employees leaving an endless cycle of searching for, hiring and losing talent. With that cycle comes the loss of crucial knowledge on software development projects, and more widely an adverse effect on organisation’s culture as people come and go.

Nearshore software development is recognised by many of the UK’s largest brands as key for sourcing talent; not only for scaling capabilities with talented people, but also to implement a longer-term partnership which integrates with the existing culture of the organisation through knowledge sharing, accountability and working towards common goals.

In contrast to the UK, nearshore locations are booming with supply of talent. Europe, where Godel’s software development centres are based has seen huge investment into its technology exports, with software skills being a key area for the country’s growth, and expertise in DevOps, QA, test automation and front end in abundance.

In 2017 Godel established a dedicated cloud and DevOps division channelling investment into professional training and development of DevOps and development employees in AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. It now has a growing function solely dedicated to delivering extended capabilities to deliver dedicated teams where skills don’t exist or can’t be acquired fast enough in-house.