What is your tech skill quotient?
So there is a huge demand, but there is also talent and skill scarcity. A recent McKinsey article,
Tech talent tectonics: Ten new realities for finding, keeping, and developing talent elaborates on this situation: “According to a McKinsey survey of more than 1,500 senior executives globally, some 87 percent say their companies are not adequately prepared to address the skill gap. And according to another McKinsey survey, 61 percent of HR professionals believe hiring developers will be their biggest challenge in the years ahead.” So what are the top skills that one needs to acquire to make a mark in this industry?
Here is a simple three-layered classification of skills that a techie needs to have
Basics are important, always
Getting the basics right may be a cliche, but it is also the absolute truth.
The first step to building a successful career in IT is to learn to code. Code, code, and code–get your hands dirty. The more you code and develop an aptitude for getting it right, the greater your growth will be. Currently, several people choose to specialize in high-end technologies such as AI and ML right at the beginning. This may help in the short term, but in the long run, it is the coding skills that will make the difference.
The next important skill set is logical thinking–the ability to understand the brief, analyze the variables and non-negotiables, and then devise a solution. In my opinion, many engineers/developers work on a module without the idea of the big picture. They need to make an effort to understand the big picture to realize how their module or solution contributes to the overall result. For example, a data scientist has to develop the ability to visualize the 360-degree view of the problem to understand how data can help arrive at the right answers. Moving forward, this skill will also help them to conceptualise and design effective solutions when they become team leaders.
Linux and GitHub form the backbone of several software development projects. The need to understand and gain proficiency in these platforms can never be overstated. They are the foundations of good coding and help improve speed and quality.
Decoding data and design
One of the oft-cited quotes of Steve Jobs is: Design isn’t just what it looks like and feels like — design is how it works. As a tech professional, you need to understand your customer’s pain points to develop effective and meaningful solutions.
Complex systems and cutting-edge technology are impactful only if they are harnessed to create user-centric services. Equally important are data skills–infact data can help identify patterns and trends, which in turn can lead to the development of innovative products and services. Most importantly, a good technologist should be able to marry data and design for holistic solution development.
Design is also a collaborative approach in most cases, and this calls for nuanced people skills. Tech talent is usually portrayed in popular culture as lone wolves, recluses, heads bent over sheaves of codes. Nothing can be farther than the truth. Collaboration is key for ideas and innovation–so go ahead and take time to interact with your team members and clients.
Building sound technical skills are the starting point, akin to the base camp in a long trek. Moving ahead it is essential to develop capabilities to produce end-to-end holistic solutions. The need of the hour is to know all aspects of the project, platform or technology. And this can be gained by working on live projects, taking up challenging internships etc. Knowing these skills end to end and having practiced them through solving real life problems is what makes for a time proof strong tech career.
Change is the only constant is a cliche that holds true to the tech world. Disruptions here are normal, and technology can get outdated quickly. However, when one acquires and builds the skills mentioned then adaptation to newer aspects will be easy.
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