Building new developer talent in the digital economy

The UK is a global development hub for new apps and systems being built to meet the requirements of the digital economy. But demand for skilled technology professionals, including developers, already outstrips supply, which means that organisations are competing for the best people.

There are plenty of choices to make when considering future career paths in the banking and financial services sector.

Don’t write off legacy skills just yet

Research from Hired highlights particular skills shortages in Ruby, Python, DevOps, user interface design and user experience design. Despite the digital revolution, a high proportion of banks’ systems are still based on legacy platforms, where most data is held.

Not only are legacy coding and maintenance skills still needed to keep core systems up and running, but knowledge of interconnection between existing and new systems is a growing requirement during this transition period.

It means there’s a particular requirement for developers who understand technology in both the old world and new, especially how to make both work seamlessly and securely together in a blended environment.

Keep on learning

There’s a fascinating statistic reported by the World Economic Forum (WEF) that says that around 65% of children today will end up in careers that don’t even exist yet. While the underlying approach to building systems will stay the same, it’s likely that even the most visionary technologist would find it tough to predict which development environments and tools will exist in 10 years.

The fact that technology is moving so fast means it’s vital to keep learning and keep up with the latest developments. What was hot a couple of years ago plays a small part in the development world today.

From a cultural point of view, it’s important to try and reshape your skills on a regular basis. Resources such as Coursera’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) provide access to self-learning programs in partnership with top universities and organisations, and you can find a wide range of developer courses to choose from.

Employers are increasingly seeing self-taught developers as being particularly valuable, not least because they are up to speed with the latest technology and have shown proactivity and a ‘self-starter’ attitude that is prized in the agile environment.

Liaise with the business

One of the biggest changes to the world of software development is the need to collaborate much more closely with colleagues in the business, who are naturally closer to customers day-to-day and have a better understanding of the customer journey.

It’s a two-way street: we’re already seeing banks send their non-technology staff on mandatory coding courses and building more dynamic and relaxed environments that support creativity and innovation.

In the past, developers were given long lists of problems to fix within set version cycles. In today’s agile development world, faster coding cycles are possible and this allows for a different approach where the same team – including business domain experts – are responsible for design, coding, and development.

Building a mindset that can accommodate this way of working will become increasingly important, and as necessary as having the technical knowledge and skill sets such as C++, Java, Python, and Ruby.

Broaden your horizons

As the platform economy expands, there will be more demand for developers who understand how to build systems for published APIs, via environments such as Finastra’s

There is also a growing need for developers who understand how to assemble pre-written code into new apps and to harness automation, rather than hand coding everything from scratch.

There are various initiatives underway to increase the number of developers available to UK PLC, including collaborative ventures with the education sector, retraining non-technology employees from the business and even teaching all five-year-olds in schools to code.

But with predictions that the UK will have more than 750,000 new digital jobs by 2020, British businesses will need to train millions of people to meet the demand for digital skills.

It’s set to be a golden age of opportunity for developers, whether that involves working for technology providers or small start-ups or corporates. Those who know both business and tech will be the most in demand.

Mitesh Soni, Senior Director, Innovation and Fintech Ecosystems, Finastra

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