Software and communication skills in demand

Software programming skills are in high demand

Software programming skills are still in demand despite companies cutting back IT spending. But programmers must have strong communication skillsif they are to secure work

Last week the monthly Recruitment & Employment Confederation and KPMG UK Employment Report saidkey programming skillsare in short supply despite a sharp drop in IT vacancies.

UK businesses need more permanent staff with .net, C#, and PHP, said the research. Temporary staff with CNC programming skills are in high demand.

The financial services sector, which has been hit hard by the recession, is still looking for people with the right skills, according to Philip Treleaven, professor of computing at University College London (UCL).

UCLlaunched a PhD course in Financial Computingthis month. Graduates will carry out research usingniche skills such as programming for algorithmic trading.

"Demand for specialist programmers will not really fall because banks are trying to improve their systems to make them more efficient," says Philip Trevealen.

Yann L'Huillier, CTO at share trading exchange Turquoise, says people with the right programming skills are always in demand:"The way that business evolves means we always want more computerisation, which requires more skills to support it."

But he says just possessing the programming skills is not enough. Organisations are demanding programmers that understand the business requirements. "They must also be able to communicate with the business."

Bola Rotibi, analyst at Macehiter Ward Dutton, saysbusinesses want software developers to understand more than just code writing more than ever:"Programmers need to think about the wider picture such as how solutions fit together and who is using them."

"Just because you can speak a language doesn't mean you fully understand it. You do not fully understand a languageuntil you live in thecountry."

Businesses are increasingly buying their business-critical applications from suppliers, rather than writing them in-house.Trading exchange Turquoise, for example, built almost its entire infrastructure with off-the-shelf software, including its core trading system.

The trend has generated moreopportunities for programmers in the supplier community.

John Bates, CEO at complex-event-processing software firmProgress Apama, says there's always demand for the best developers and says there always will be. "However, definitely less of a demand across the board right now, so we hear from recruiters."

Progress Apama develops complex-event-processing software used by financial services firms. John Bates says the suppliers that are still hiring are those that offer products that helpcut costs, managerisk and increaseprofitability.

"I am interested in people that can solve problems and I would prefer this over people that have lots of experience but no problem-solving skills," says John Bates.

Businesses still have to do business during recession and cutting costs is more important than ever. Automating and acccelerating business processes through software development is one way of doing this. Programmers will always be in demand but they must have business as well as programming skills.

Read more about IT in the recession:

Seven IT tips for surviving the recession >>

Gartner's 10 CIO resolutions to survive 2009 >>

Gartner symposium: How IT can survive the recession >>

Read more on IT jobs and recruitment

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