What are the skills you need to keep in demand? We asked employers, recruitment agencies and training companies what skills will be in demand for 2006 and beyond.

Software development is a unique profession
in that there is no set path to become
a qualified software developer. Unlike
doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other
professions no set qualifications are legally required.
It’s an unusual situation in a country where bartenders
require a qualification so they are legally allowed
to pour a beer at the local pub.

As a relatively immature industry software professionals
have undertaken training from a variety of
sources including tertiary education in the form of
University degrees, TAFE qualifications, private training
institutes, and industry certifications. Many selftaught
developers have no official certification to
their name at all.

What matters more than certifications to prospective
employers is experience. Certifications can be
impressive and add that extra touch to a resume but
there is little substitute for experience in the driver’s
seat of real-world software development.
Whatever path a developer has chosen to enter the
industry one thing is sure ââ,¬”software developers can
rarely rest on one set of skills for an entire career. For
better or worse technology changes and the skills to
write software for new platforms is one of the most
dynamic of any profession. Whether you choose a
job on the basis of money, culture, job satisfaction,
creativity or all of the above having the right skills allows
for greater options when choosing prospective
employment opportunities.

Hot skills

Builder Magazine talked to employers, training companies,
and recruiters and found that just about all
were seeking developers with experience in technologies
such as C#, .NET, J2EE, Java, XML, and a variety
of open source Java frameworks.

According to the 2005 survey by recruitment company
Hays, there is a high demand for developers
with a -strong understanding of [software development] methodologies, .NET and Java architects.

salary guide survey by Hudson in late 2005
showed a similar picture with a high demand in the
skills mentioned by Hays and added that that enterprise
architects and business intelligence experts
were highly sought after.

While various surveys conflicted in their reports
of whether .NET or Java/J2EE skills were in higher
demand, it seems both are highly regarded and
both fetching similar remuneration packages.
Packages for .NET/J2EE developers ranged from
analyst programmers starting at $50K per anum
and moving up to $90K per anum for more experienced

Sun and Microsoft are taking an aggressive stance
to get more developers certified and trained using
their technology.

Alan Cory, business development manager for
Sun Microsystem’s education services admitted
many Java developers have no official certification
with many being self-taught. Sun are focused
on rectifying that by introducing new exams to get
developers, especially entry level programmers and
non-technical managers up to speed with the latest
versions of Java and the J2EE platform.

In particular, Cory hopes to see a rise in the
amount of entry-level developers and project
managers to the newly created Sun Certified associate
certification. In contrast, Microsoft and its education partners
have revamped their certification efforts around
the release of their new development tools, platforms,
and database that were released in November
of 2005.

Dimension Data Learning Solutions, a Microsoft
gold partner that offers various courses and training
for software developers said that for developers to
have up-to-date certification many will have to take
the new exams to be officially qualified in the new
Visual Studio 2005 development tools and SQL Server
2005 database.

While the company have been offering workshops
to get developers up to speed on the new products,
it plans to offer the new certifications in 2006.

Skillsoft, a company off ering both Microsoft .NET and Java
courses told Builder Magazine that neither was more popular
than the other with development courses in VB.NET, C#,
Java and MCSE as their most demanded developer subject.

Looking ahead

While there is a lot of buzz around Web 2.0 applications
and development techniques such as AJAX
within the last year, there has been little evidence in
official statistics to support a large demand in Australia
for such skill sets as yet.

One large Sydney-based Web development who
wished not to be named for this story because they
are about to launch a new AJAX product in early
2006 told Builder Magazine the skills required to
build these applications were self-taught by a team
of 12 developers.

-The use of AJAX-type technologies is really just a
shift in the way we were using existing Web developer
skills. The technology is too new to be included
in any certification or course we were aware of and
most of the developers got up to speed with AJAX by
researching articles online and using trial and error.”

In a bid to create more interactive user interfaces
on the Web another technology that was sought after
amongst development shops we interviewed was
Flash developer skills, in particular knowledge of
Flex and Laszlo.

Developers who were certified and skilled in business
intelligence and reporting were also highly
sought after, especially in the financial services industry.
While no one particular technology could be
identified in research figures as being more popular
or in demand than another consultants who could
offer a range of skills in this area could easily fetch a
minimum of $90K per anum.

Supporting legacy code

Having the right skills in the software development
world doesn’t always including having the latest
skills. Many recruitment and training companies said
it wasn’t necessarily about learning the latest development
trends, but being able to support aging
code and systems that companies are happy to run,
for example VB6 and COBOL applications.
In particular, many recruiters said they were starting
to see a decline in the pool of software developers
skilled in COBOL as they hit retirement age and
younger developers not learning the language or
environment in which it runs.

When asked about how courses are chosen, Dimension
Data said they will offer training courses
that will meet with the demands of the market and customers. For example, Dimension Data Learning
Solutions recently trained developers
on Visual Basic6 because a
team who were not familiar
with the aging skill
set were taking over a

-As a
professional training
company we
will change to the
demands for our customers,”
says Brent Challis from Dimension
Data Learning Solutions.

Soft skills and suits

If you are sick of being knee deep in code,
and feel a move away from a hands-on
technical role there is a high demand for
technical experience in non-technical
roles. If you are a good leader, think you
have what it takes to manage a team of
developers, and understand the needs
of clients project management skills are
highly sought after.

-The Project Management Institute certification
courses have been very much
in demand by our customers. Project
management is amoung our very mostdemanded
certification courseware,” says
Skillsoft’s Rebecca Nicholls.
Financial rewards for project managers
are also high with figures averaging just
above $100K per anum.

Other less technical hands-on roles,
which both Hays and the Hudson surveys
cited as being in high demand
included technical business analysts,
technical pre-sales positions, and
project team leaders. Enterprise architects
were also high on the hit list of
many recruitment agencies with many
finding it hard to find qualified professionals
to fill the roles.

While having the right technical skills
could land you a job, many employers are
more and more asking for soft skills, especially
communication. In many cases
behavioural tests are becoming common
practice during the interview process.
Employers value customer
service, team skills, and developers
who can understand
the business needs
of clients.

Two bodies that claim
to represent Australian
IT professionals, The Australian
Computer Society
(ACS), and the IT Pro program
by CompTIA both agree that Australian
developers need to continually
upgrade their skills, both technical
and soft, to keep competitive in the
local and international market. While
only recently launched in October this
year, CompTIA’s new IT Pro program is
looking to take on the ACS by attracting
members with special deals, access
to the latest data in job vacancies, salary
scales, and access to training and
other discounts.

-The pace of technological change
is so fast these days that organisations
need to make a substantial commitment
to boosting and refreshing the skills
base of their ICT workers, or face a drastic
fall in the quality of their technical
workforce,” said ex ACS President Edward
Mandla before stepping down from his
position in November.

Skills in demand
National Average
Analyst Programmer – Client Server
Analyst Programmer – Web
Analyst Programmer – .NET
Analyst Programmer – .Legacy
Senior Analyst Programmer – Client Server
Senior Analyst Programmer – Web
Senior Analyst Programmer – .NET
Senior Analyst Programmer – .Legacy
Systems Analyst
Functional Business Analyst
Technical Business Analyst
Database Developer
Datamodelling/Datawarehouse Consultant
Business Intelligence Consultant
Development Team Leader
Project Manager


Project Coordinator


Project Administrator


ERP Consultant – Technical (tier 1 products)


ERP Consultant – Functional (tier 1 products)


Systems Tester


Test Team Leader


Technical Writer




* Source: Hudson Salary Guide, Spring 2005

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