Software development jobs – what you need to succeed

Careers Consultant Susan Bird shares insights from a presentation by Lesley Broadwood of ScotlandIS.

ScotlandIS is the membership body for the digital technologies industry in Scotland. Within this, Lesley manages the Digital Skills Partnership which works with universities, colleges and industry to support curriculum development so that people with the skills which companies will need in the near future will be available to them.

A quick look at some of the job titles of today – unheard of a few years ago – illustrates the rate of change in this sector: scrum master, cloud architect, mobile developer, product manager and business analyst.  Job titles of tomorrow will include: ethics specialists, VR developers, cyber specialists, 3D printing technologists, UI/UX designers (user interface/user experience), technical marketing & sales support, AI/ML developers and consultants (artificial intelligence/machine learning).

Demand for data scientists and cyber experts, in particular, is on the rise.  User Xperience designers are in short supply, as are people with robotics skills. Higher level digital tech and data skills will continue to be important.

All sectors and all roles, even those which have little obvious connection with technology at the moment, are likely to involve working with or alongside machines in the future.  We’re going to need the communication and social skills that allow us to work with machines, teach them, explain them, help others to work with them, take ethical considerations into account when designing and implementing them, selling and commercializing them.

There is an increase in demand for people, with 12,800 new entrants needed every year in Scotland – especially those with backgrounds in software engineering and computer science.  The number of people working in technology-related roles in non-tech sectors is growing even faster.  Currently, 60% of those in Digital Technology roles are working in non-tech businesses such as financial services, creative industries, healthcare, energy and engineering.

Particular areas of growth are:

  • Data science, AI, machine learning, cyber security
  • Agile, DevOps, TDD, continuous delivery
  • SaaS, DaaS, Maas,
  • Python, R, Go, Rust, Swift
  • Voice technologies
  • UI/UX
  • IOT (Internet of Things) and edge computing
  • 5G and beyond
  • Ethics
  • Quantum

The Digital Skills Partnership asked a number of employers to list the technical and interpersonal skills they look for when hiring computer science or software engineering graduates to software development roles.

Technical skills:

  • Fluency in a programming language
  • Knowledge of another core language eg Javascript, Java, Python, C, C++ , plus another type of language.
  • Understanding of full stack development, so that you can see where things fit together
  • Able to give consideration to the accessibility or usability of code
  • Designing for internationalisation
  • An understanding of distributed systems

Interpersonal skills considered to be important

  • Team working
  • Having a user focus
  • Problem solving
  • Possessing a positive, forward thinking attitude
  • Being able to challenge the status quo
  • Self-awareness
  • Communication skills
  • Being self-motivated
  • Able to cope with constructive criticism

When they were asked what areas they felt graduates were most often lacking in, the employers suggested the following:

  • Problem solving skills. Need to think more analytically.
  • Coping with short timescales – projects often need a fast turnaround
  • Being able to test code adequately, deploy it and then make sure that it is running well
  • Coding experience especially working with a large code base or the automated pipeline.
  • Appreciating that there is a big difference between writing code and production code especially in smaller businesses. The code has to be stable and secure by design, not just work.
  • Many new graduates are not aware of the documentation processes which accompany the software development life cycle.
  • Confidence! Need to be able to ask for help when necessary, and need to appreciate that they have a big contribution to make to the business
  • Written and verbal communication skills – many graduates find it difficult to write succinct project reports.
  • Commercial awareness eg need to understand the impact of delays on profit margins


Read more about Scotland’s technology industry and the work of ScotlandIS here:

(Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay)

(Image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay)


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