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Almost half of tech professionals expect their job to be automated within ten years - Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017 Technology is "eating itself" / Continual skills development key to career success


10th November 2016. Forty five per cent 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 per cent and 63 per cent respectively), and CIO/VP IT and Programme Management least affected (31 per cent and 30 per cent respectively).

David Savage, associate director, 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."

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 per cent indicate "more training" as a key thing they want in their job and only 27 per cent 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'.

Simon Hindle, director, Harvey Nash Switzerland, commented: "Technology careers are in a state of flux. On one side technology is 'eating itself', with job roles increasingly being commoditised 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?'"

Key highlights from the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017:

  • 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

Supporting data from the Survey (global averages):

Which technologies are important to your company now, and which do you expect to be important in five years' time?

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Agree or disagree? Within ten years, a significant part of my job that I currently perform will be automated

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How many qualified approaches have you had from headhunters in the last year?

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About the Survey

More than 3,245 technology professionals from 84 countries participated in the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017. The survey was conducted between July 14, 2016 and November 1, 2016. A wide range of technology professionals contributed, including software engineers / developers (14 per cent), technology project managers (10 per cent) and c-level technology leaders (nine percent). A significant proportion of respondents were from the United Kingdom, United States, Switzerland and Australia, and across the European Union. For more information about the survey, an infographic of the key results and to access a full copy of the results, please visit www.harveynash.com/techsurvey or email michelle.smith@harveynash.com

About Harvey Nash

Established in 1988, Harvey Nash has helped over half the world's leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 7,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and offshore services.
To learn more, please visit www.harveynash.com.
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