Every business, irrespective of the industry, relies on technology to compete in today’s market, thereby raising the demand for tech talent. Being one of the fastest-growing IT occupations in the US, software developer employment is projected to grow by 21% from 2018 to 2028, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This growth is even more impressive when compared to the 5% projected long-term growth of total US employment over the same period. The demand for developers with the right skills is outpacing the supply, given a tight labor market and shortage of specialized skills. In order to attract top talent, staffing firms are recalibrating their approaches and rethinking their recruiting strategies.

Recognizing the value-add for staffing firms or companies looking to hire software developers, SIA published its first-ever “IT staffing occupation profile: Software Developer” report in the first quarter of 2020 – available to all corporate members. This report provides valuable detail into the types of skills software developers possess to help recruiters make informed hiring decisions and explore the opportunity to upskill or reskill their available talent pool.

Staffing companies can further leverage this report to learn about the latest market trends, short- and long-term demand drivers and sought-after technology stack in the tech market. The top three highlights from the report:

Software developers in every industry. The software developer role is no longer restricted to the IT sector, as every industry is swept in by the technological wave, boosting demand for this occupation. To facilitate tracking of demand and to help growth forecasts, BLS classifies software developers into two sub-groups — applications developers and systems developers. Applications software developers accounted for 944,200 jobs, which is more than twice that of systems software developers (421,300), mainly driven by large-scale use of portable devices such as mobile phones and tablets, thereby increasing IT spend for new applications.

It is quite evident that sectors such as finance and manufacturing are significant contributors to the developers’ demand — both applications and systems. Two large employers of this role are software publishers and the finance and insurance sector; finance and insurance employs 10% of applications developers, largely due to banks’ evolving need for new software to offer various online services while manufacturing employs 19% of systems developers as the sector is steering toward automation and technological integration. Similarly, healthcare is digitalizing patients’ medical records and retailers are building ecommerce websites, creating a niche for software developers in non-tech sectors.

In-demand technology stack. Using proprietary data from humanpredictions and Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey, the report uncovers the latest trends in programming language, framework, database and platforms while ranking them by developers’ preferences globally. The survey data reveals Python to be the fastest-growing programming language, while there are more software developers coding in HTML, JavaScript and Java.

Although .NET is a widely used framework in the developer community, React and Node.js are slowly but surely catching up. The survey also noted MySQL and MongoDB to be the two dominant databases and Linux to be a preferred platform followed by Docker and Kubernetes. Companies that offer popular tech stacks have better chances of landing the right hire.

Remote work flexibility. The tech landscape is changing and so is the way people work. Companies offering a flexible work environment have a competitive edge in the battle for the best talent. Initially, the concept of remote work wasn’t received very well, with employers claiming drawbacks such as employees slacking off, difficulty in tracking productivity or distractions at home from families. However, as companies started embracing remote work, they noticed an uptick in productivity, increase in their bottom line and achieving better work-life balance for employees.

A survey conducted by Stack Overflow revealed that 42% of developers globally preferred working remotely; however, only 12% are actual full-time remote workers and roughly 18% are working remotely at least half the time. It indicates a huge opportunity for staffing firms to tap into this talent pool for the hard-to-find skills. Remote work is not a “one size fits all” solution and so the preference varies from country to country. As shown in the accompanying chart, software developers in the US, UK and Canada were more likely offered a flexible work environment than in other large markets such as Germany and India.

A global survey conducted today would likely paint a different picture of remote work flexibility. In the Covid-19 world, remote work became a necessity to keep businesses running, changing the attitude of companies across the globe toward remote work. The benefits are more obvious than the shortcomings, as it is proving to be a solution to the skill-shortages and a source of cost savings.

While a lot has changed since this data was analyzed, we believe the long-term demand drivers are strong for software developers and the trends considered are still relevant. Staffing companies can use this report as a starting point in their complex process of matching the right candidate with the right company.