7 IT skills employers are looking for right now

James Miligan - Director Technology & Project Solutions at Hays

It’s no understatement to say that the Covid-19 crisis has caused huge shifts to our working practices and transformed industry landscapes beyond recognition. What this has made clear, however, is how integral IT professionals are to this new working order, particularly with the increased spotlight on systems and technology in the wake of the mass transition to remote working.
Throughout 2020, the technology sector once again proved itself to be robust and adaptable, contributing significantly to the Belgian economy. It remains an amazing industry for any professional looking to take their career forward and, arguably, engineering is at the centre of it all.

With some form of remote working practice looking set to continue for the foreseeable future as we enter a new working era, professionals in possession of the following IT skills will be best placed to secure a perm or contractor role in the coming months: 

7 most important IT skills

Cloud and infrastructure

Unsurprisingly, with the mass transition to home working within the last couple of months, skills in terms of cloud and infrastructure, cloud database – particularly within cloud based services such as AWSAzure and Google Cloud – and cloud software – like Dynamics 365SharePoint and Salesforce - have been hugely in demand, as companies sought to move their workforce to a remote working model at pace.

The use of cloud systems will still remain prevalent as the lockdown eases and we begin to move towards more of a ‘hybrid’ way of working.

Experienced IT professionals will be needed in order to ensure that organisations are able to scale up or down according to business requirement, and deploy cloud services where needed. It will also be vital for connectivity to these services to remain consistent and reliable, as being able to access cloud systems quickly and easily will be key to employee productivity and operational efficiency.
These services are a mix of reactionary activities, as businesses moved to the cloud to reduce the impact of the pandemic, or more proactive, fundamental digital transformation projects as organisations take this opportunity to reset and realign for a post-pandemic world.

Cloud engineers are building the platforms for businesses to thrive in the ever-expanding digital world and so are one of the hottest engineering roles right now.

Cyber security

In tandem with the increased demand for cloud and infrastructure skills, the tech profession has also seen increased emphasis on cyber security, with organisations recognising the need for tighter security controls to be put in place to protect remote operating models.

The increased use of personal devices for work purposes, along with new accounts and increased access to remote systems, has put company infrastructure at increased risk of hackers and breaches, and action will need to be taken in order to ensure that the VPNs and network devices being used remotely are updated with the latest security configurations. Professionals with IT skills in cyber security – already in high-demand – will therefore remain indispensable as agile working practices continue for the foreseeable future.

Data science

As organisations race to adapt to different ways of working and practices continue to evolve, data scientists are taking increased precedence – particularly within the public sector – as companies look to data insights for modelling the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their business, and what a phased return to their workplace might look like.

We’ve seen a corresponding rise in demand for data professionals wanted to sit within business units and departments and focus on understanding the business processes and providing real, actionable insights from the data to enhance performance in a meaningful way.

The demand for data engineers, including those with a development, science, analytics or visualisation remit, also continues to grow.

As the amount of data in the world continues to expand at exponential levels, smart businesses are working to unlock its power. For data analysis to be used effectively it has to be both reliable and available to the right people at the right time to aid strategic decision-making and reduce pressure on day-to-day operations. With companies having to adopt an agile approach to working practices on an ongoing basis, professionals who are able to quickly and effectively interpret data will be in-demand as we head into the new era of work.

This field offers the chance for professionals to specialise in either deep technical expertise or blended roles that utilise the right tools and technology, coupled with deep business domain expertise.

Change management

The unprecedented speed with which organisations have had to react to the pandemic and its ensuing challenges has triggered an acceleration of digital transformation projects. Companies that were already moving away from legacy systems have had to do so now as a matter of urgency.

This has created increased demand for professionals with IT skills in change management, to help facilitate this transformative change.

Candidates who possess a combination of technical acumen and the soft skills required to lead a team through digital change will continue to be sought after by employers as we move forward.


The broad DevOps and site reliability engineering field continues to see increased demand, maintaining a trend we have seen over the last few years. A key characteristic of a DevOps model is development and operations teams no longer being “siloed”, sometimes even being brought together to form a single team. In practice, you’ll tend to find DevOps Engineers working with software production, keeping a close eye on code releases to look for areas of inefficiency in the software. Their role can include not just monitoring and troubleshooting software, but also editing or reconfiguring it if required.  There is also the knock-on effect of improved engagement and innovation as teams become more connected.

Traditional systems and infrastructure opportunities are blended with a variety of automation, scripting and core software development to offer an interesting and varied career to people in this space.
The importance of DevOps certainly won’t change in 2021. Many more organisations now have a DevOps team than was the case just a few years ago, so there will continue to be jobs in demand in this field, such as Platform, Build, and Reliability Engineers. In fact, there’s been a 40 to 45 per cent growth in the market over the last five years, with DevOps Zone predicting this will rise even higher.

Software development

A career in software engineering can offer a professional a great deal of range in terms of the technology they work with, products they build and people they impact.

To successfully transition and adapt to radically shifting markets, organisations need developers to create new products, tools and services. This includes not only Back-end Developers who can build the heavier tech, but also the Front-end Developers – including UX – who can make sure any product that’s built is easy to use and navigate from both a design and build perspective.

Those Developers working for tech organisations – organisations which provide essential products, services or tools which consumers will always need in this new world – will be particularly high in demand. Take the video conferencing company, Zoom for example, which has boomed during the course of the pandemic, benefiting from a massive increase in profits whilst doubling its sales forecast.

We continue to see high demand for software developers that outweighs the supply of talent available in this space. Software engineering has been at the heart of the growth of the technology industry in Belgium and remains key for the future. While we do have an abundance of hugely talented developers in Belgium, we could always do with more as the demand is, to put it simply, relentless.

But Software Developers aren’t just key to allowing tech companies to operate and thrive. Every company in every industry relies on tech to allow them to function – the taxi company Uber, for instance, relies on tech to enable drivers to pick up riders.

In today’s world, it’s tech that powers organisations, so software developers will always be high in demand. It’s important to note, too, that these software development roles will also be absolutely crucial in enabling organisations to innovate to solve the many new problems that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.

There are still massive opportunities for developers with fluency in core languages like Java and .net, but we have also seen a continuation in demand for front-end/UI and UX, as well as in areas like Python, API, Scala, Kotlin, Go, Ruby, TypeScript and more.

AI and machine learning

What list of hottest IT skills would be complete without the tech that Hollywood loves most? AI and machine learning technologies are having meaningful impacts on our everyday lives.
The applications are endless. AI and machine learning have the potential to distil and action repetitive, administrative tasks currently completed by humans. These include image processing, business process management and data analysis.

AI and machine learning engineers use machine learning algorithms to build models that allow deep learning neural networks to draw business insights. Generally, these engineers have a foundation in programming, software engineering and data science, blended with natural curiosity and problem solving to process data as well as develop and maintain AI systems.

This is an area that really shows growing demand and professionals here will see exciting new career opportunities for years to come.

Salaries in IT

Of course, salaries are location, industry and skills-dependent. For a more detailed picture about salaries for specific roles, check out the Hays Belgian salary guide.

Are you an IT professional and considering your next step, then have a look at our most recent IT jobs.

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