Apps are key drivers of the modern digital economy, and of crucial importance to business leaders. Yet barely a quarter (26%) of the top skills featured in developer vacancies are business-related, and at least 49% of all listings fail to include a single business skill as one of their top 10 requirements.
This is according to a European-wide analysis of the top developer job listings from VMware, in conjunction with job intelligence platform Jobfeed, by Textkernel.
Business skills such as finance (5%), stakeholder management (6%) and project management (7%), which are critical to understanding and presenting the business case for apps to boards, rarely feature in the top skills that employers seek in prospective developer talent.
Boards are looking to business-savvy developer talent to help accelerate the delivery of apps and provide consistently outstanding experiences to users. Yet, business expertise is largely absent from adverts for front end development roles. Only 23% of front-end developer and 22% of android developer vacancies reference the top business skills in their priority requirements, compared to 39% in software engineer ads and 63% in data architect vacancies. For front-end developers in particular, neither project nor stakeholder management are listed in the top skills requirements, despite more than 130,000 roles being advertised across Europe since the start of 2021.
Ed Hoppitt, EMEA Director, Apps and Cloud Platforms at VMware, says: “As boards’ demand for app delivery grows, there is a real opportunity for developers to hone their business skills and become more visible and instrumental among business leaders in app modernisation. Business leaders rarely speak tech, and developers can be this necessary bridge. Capitalising on this huge opportunity for more cohesion between core business, developer and IT teams, and prizing developers with the business skills to complement their coding abilities, is essential if enterprises are to embed apps at the centre of a truly digital-first business strategy.”
Laser-focused recruitment needed, as developer demand soars
Recruitment efforts must specifically target developers who can communicate the value of apps to business leaders, given the number of job vacancies continues to grow. Year-on-year demand for development roles increased by 38% across Europe from Q1 of 2021 to the same period in 2022, with the number of job listings rising 173% and 106% in Spain and Italy respectively, while the Netherlands (3%), Belgium (19%) and UK (22%) enjoyed more modest rises.
The competition for data roles is particularly fierce, with Spain’s need for data engineers having rocketed 305%. Italy’s focus on data architects also grew 210% year-on-year, providing clear evidence that apps, and the volume of data they produce, are informing hiring decisions.
Speaking to local VMware partner Strategix, the skills issue is a global one and one that is having far reaching consequences closer to home too, but these skills aren’t just hard to find they are hard to retain too.
“If you secure developers’ skills, who can help your customers navigate from an analogue to a digital world, you must remember that these are people who want to be busy,” says Willie Jansen van Rensburg, Group Executive: Cloud, Strategix. “These individuals thrive on being challenged, and they want mountains to climb and to be engaged and allowed to innovate. You can’t run the risk of letting them get bored because they will leave, and no amount of money will keep them. These individuals have a different makeup. They feed off accelerated growth and must be constantly challenged.”
Businesses turn to training and partners to upskill talent
The shortfall in business acumen is driving some companies to target developers with business knowhow, invest in specific training, and work with partners to develop the communication skills of both developer and non-developer employees. As Hoppitt adds, “finding those who can drive app-based outcomes for the business, and communicate their importance to its digital strategy, is critical to their future success.”