Top IT Skills Trends in the UK for 2024

After a turbulent 2023 marked by job cuts by big tech firms, 2024 could see a more positive outlook for IT professionals in the U.K. Tech workers looking for new roles may find there is particular demand for artificial intelligence and cloud expertise, as well as a need for softer skills around communications and managing teams.

Is there a shortage of IT skills in the UK?

There has been a long-term IT skills shortage in the U.K. About two million people in the U.K. work in tech, but there’s still demand for more.

According to U.K. government figures, the level of “skills-shortage vacancies”, which is where a job cannot be filled due to a lack of skills, qualifications or experience among applicants, is very high in the information and communications sector; it climbed from an already high 25% in 2017 to 43% in 2022, the last year for which data is available. And there’s plenty of evidence that the IT skills shortages continue. Even if the intensity of the shortage varies from year to year, there’s a clear long-term need for more tech staff in the U.K.

Research by Amazon Web Services in 2023 found that more than two thirds (68%) of UK businesses found it challenging to hire the digital workers they need, and 45% said this was due to a shortage of qualified applicants. A separate recent survey by Gigged.AI found that 91% of respondents to its UK survey were grappling with a tech skills shortage to some degree; approximately a third (34%) said they faced large-to-very-large tech skills shortages.

What are the most in-demand tech jobs and skills in the UK for 2024?

Most in-demand tech jobs in the UK

Six tech jobs made LinkedIn’s Jobs on the Rise 2024 list of the top 25 jobs in the U.K. that are most in demand.

  • Artificial intelligence engineer (#7 on LinkedIn’s list).
  • Security operations center analyst (#10).
  • Cyber security manager (#11).
  • Cyber security architect (#15).
  • Data governance manager (#16).
  • Data engineer (#25).

Other jobs on the top 25 list also had some involvement with tech, such as sustainability manager at #1, chief revenue officer at #4 and demand generation manager at #8.

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According to the 2024 Salary Guide research from recruitment company Robert Half, the most in-demand permanent tech jobs in the U.K. are:

  • Full-stack developer.
  • ERP/CRM engineer.
  • Head of IT.
  • Cloud infrastructure engineer.
  • Cyber security analyst.

The most in-demand contract tech jobs in the U.K., according to Robert Half, are:

  • ERP/CRM implementation project manager.
  • Infrastructure manager.
  • Network engineer.
  • First-line support.
  • Second-line support.

Most in-demand tech skills in the UK

Robert Half research said the most in-demand technical skills for 2024 in the U.K. are:

  • Cloud computing, including Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google Cloud.
  • Microsoft Dynamics.
  • Netsuite.
  • SAP.
  • Python.
  • SQL.

Kris Harris, regional director of U.K. technology solutions at Robert Half, told TechRepublic in an email that there was also lots of interest in cybersecurity, machine learning and AI, data handling and storytelling, which includes manipulation and visualization. In addition, user experience design and cloud knowledge are still popular skills with employers. He said there had been a slight decline in on-premise infrastructure and network skills, which are largely being replaced by cloud knowledge.

“The uptick in cloud-based resources is also reducing some of the need for data centre operatives as well as those with physical machine management capabilities. Looking ahead, it’s likely that we will also see a decline in traditional network engineering/system admin demands as we move towards more data, cyber and cloud requirements,” Harris said.

What is the highest paying IT job in the UK?

Chief Information Officer tops the list of highest paying IT jobs in the U.K., with many salaries ranging between £105,000 and £176,000; however, Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Security Officers and Chief Architect roles all have similar pay ranges depending on the size of the organisation. For comparison, a front-end developer can expect to earn somewhere between £44,000 and £76,000, said the Robert Half data.

What’s the outlook for IT jobs in the UK in 2024 and beyond?

Harris said there will still be a high demand for skilled technology resources, largely driven by SME businesses.

“Enterprise platform enhancements, optimisation of data and the continued requirement for business technology progression will remain. We are currently seeing sectors such as SaaS, education, healthcare, financial services and retail, as well as the government, all investing in tech development, and we don’t expect this to change any time soon,” he said.

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Recruitment company Nash Squared said one emerging trend that may become increasingly common in future years is fractional working. This is essentially where an individual works on a freelance or contractor basis but has a portfolio of part-time assignments simultaneously.

“It’s an established mode for certain senior roles — such as a fractional CISO or CIO — but is beginning to spread further down the layers of the workforce to include more junior positions,” said Andy Heyes, managing director UK&I and Central Europe at Harvey Nash, part of Nash Squared.

“By engaging a fractional executive, businesses can more surgically apply their professional capabilities, driving up efficiency and pushing down resource costs. For many companies, it’s simply having access to a highly experienced professional who has the scars and bruises of having done it before, knows where the pitfalls are, and the tactics that have proven results, and that in and of itself can save a great deal of time, money, and reduce risk,” he told TechRepublic in an email. While this is still relatively rare in the UK, he said, it’s more common in Europe.

What tech skills should you learn in 2024?

Tech is a fast-moving industry, which means that what’s hot right now might not be so exciting to employers in a few years time. However, it’s likely that AI, cloud computing and cybersecurity will continue to create steady demand over the next few years. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the list of top programming languages: currently, Python, C, C++, Java and C# are the most popular languages with developers, according to the TIOBE Index.

It’s also key to remember that softer skills are vital when looking at changing jobs, and building on these will help to future-proof your CV. According to Robert Half, the most in-demand soft skills for tech workers are communication skills, stakeholder management and people management. In addition, IT leaders said it’s hard to find candidates with strategic thinking and business skills, so this is potentially an area where you can stand out.

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This post originally appeared on TechToday.