45% of technology professionals see their job as under threat from automation

Forty-five percent of technology professionals believe a significant part of their job will be automated within ten years, rendering their current skills redundant.

The change in technology is so rapid that 94% believe their career would be severely limited if they didn’t teach themselves new technical skills. This is according to the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017, representing the views of more than 3,200 technology professionals from 84 countries.

The chance of automation varies greatly with job role, with Testers and IT Operations professionals most likely to expect their job role to be significantly affected in the next decade (67% and 63% respectively), and CIO/VP IT and Programme Management least affected (31% and 30% respectively).

David Savage, associate director at Harvey Nash UK, commented: “Through automation, it is possible that ten years from now the Technology team will be unrecognisable in today’s terms. Even for those roles relatively unaffected directly by automation, there is a major indirect effect – anything up to half of their work colleagues may be machines by 2027.”

“More Training”

In response to automation technology professionals are prioritising learning over any other career development tactics. Self-learning is significantly more important to them than formal training or qualifications; only 12% indicate “more training” as a key thing they want in their job and only 27% saw gaining qualifications as a top priority for their career.

Despite the increase in automation the Survey reveals that technology professionals remain in high demand, with participants receiving at least seven headhunt calls in the last year. Software Engineers and Developers were most in demand, followed by Analytics / Big Data roles. Respondents expect the most important technologies in the next five years to be Artificial Intelligence, Augmented / Virtual Reality and Robotics, as well as Big Data, Cloud and the Internet of Things and unsurprisingly these are also the key areas cited in what are the ‘hot skills to learn’.

Key highlights from the Survey include:

  • AI growth: Biggest technology growth area is expected to be Artificial Intelligence, 89% of respondents expect it to be important to their company in 5 years’ time, almost four times the current figure – 24%.
  • Big Data’s big, but still unproven. 57% of organisations are implementing Big Data at least to some extent. For many it is moving away being an ‘experiment’ into something much more core to their business; 21% say they are using it in a ‘strategic way’. Only three in ten organisations with a Big Data strategy are reporting success to date.
  • Immigration is key to the tech industry, and Brexit is a concern. The sector is overwhelmingly in favour of immigration; 73% believe it is critical to their country’s competitiveness. 33% of respondents to the Technology Survey were born outside the country they are currently working. Almost four in ten tech immigrants in the UK are from Europe, equating to one in ten of the entire tech working population in the UK. Moreover, UK workers make up at least a fifth the tech immigrant workforce of Ireland and Germany.
  • Where are all the women? This year’s report reveals that 16% of respondents are women; not very different from the 13% who responded in 2013. The pace of change is glacial and – at this rate – it will take decades before parity is reached.
  • Tech people don’t trust the cloud. Four in ten have little or no trust in how cloud companies are using their personal data, and a further five in ten at least worry about it. Trust in cloud is affected by age (the older you are the less you trust), location and job title. Male Architects, who are 30 years old or more from North America working in Government are least trusting.
  • The end of the CIO Role? Just 3% of those under 30 aspire to be a CIO, instead they would prefer to be a CTO (14% chose this), entrepreneur (19%) or CEO (11%). It suggests that the traditional role of the CIO is relatively unattractive to Gen Y.
  • Headhunters radar: Software Engineers and Developers get headhunted the most, followed closely by Analytics / Big Data roles. At the same time 75% believe recruiters are too focused on assessing technical skills, and overlook good people as a result

Simon Hindle, director, Harvey Nash Switzerland, added: “Technology careers are in a state of flux. On one side technology is ‘eating itself’, with job roles increasingly being commoditized and automated, on the other side new opportunities are being created, especially around Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Automation. In this rapidly changing world the winners will be the technology professionals who take responsibility for their own skills development, and continually ask: ‘where am I adding value that no other person – or machine – can add?'”

View the full study here