Half (49.5%) of tech professionals in Ireland,  almost five percent more than the global average – fear a significant part of their job will be automated within ten years, rendering their current skills redundant.

This is according to the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017, representing the views of more than 3,200 technology professionals, 307 of whom are based in Ireland.

The findings of the survey are further compounded by the Government’s National Risk Assessment, which estimates that nine percent of all jobs in Ireland are at risk of computer automation.

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).

Gavin Fox, Head of Practice for, Harvey Nash Technology, comments: “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.”

The change in technology is so rapid that 94% of technologist believe their career would be severely limited if they didn’t teach themselves new technical skills.

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. Technology is changing at such a pace that continual learning is a must. With a raft of tools, like Udemy, Alison, Imagine Academy, making Continual Learning more attainable, today’s companies expect people to be up to date.

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’.

Gavin adds: “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 Front End, Mobile, A.I, 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:

· VR growth: In Ireland, the biggest technology growth area is expected to be Virtual Reality, 94% of respondents expect it to be important to their company in 5 years’ time, more than four times the current figure – 22%. This is in contrast with the global perspective, which places Artificial Intelligence as the largest growth area, with 89% of respondents expect it to be important to their company in 5 years’ time compared to 24% today.

· Big Data’s big, but still unproven. At 60%, organisations in Ireland are using Big Data more than their global counterparts, of whom 57% 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’. Almost four in 10 organisations with a Big Data strategy are reporting success to date, higher than the global average of three in 10.

· 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.

· 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.

Gavan Fox will be appearing on a future Irish Tech News Podcast to discuss the Harvey Nash Technology Survey.

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