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6 Critical Skills Software Developers Need Right Now

The future feels uncertain for tech workers. In this article, I explore the six critical skills software developers need right now (hint: they're not all technical).
Daniel Zacharias

Code Power Team

September 29, 2023

The future feels uncertain for tech workers. New advancements in technology (especially AI) have forced a sense of insecurity upon us all. And so it’s more important than ever to “get with the program,” so to speak, and to upskill yourself where needed.

In this article, I explore the six critical skills software developers need right now (hint: they’re not all technical). 

The top 3 technical skills for success

Of course, it goes without saying that software engineers need technical skills. And with the current trajectory of things these days, I’ve seen these three critical technical skills as the most important: 

1. Cloud computing

Cloud computing is growing incredibly rapidly, and there’s a good reason for this. It provides:

  • Previously unheard-of flexibility.
  • Better security.
  • Improved capacity for collaboration.
  • Decreased costs.
  • Continual backups.

As history has shown, when times change, either tech employees have to adapt, or they’re left with severance packages while the company looks for new hires (stay with me, I’m covering this a little bit later). 

Businesses will need people who can:

  1. Develop applications on cloud infrastructure.
  2. Set up and configure clouds for business.
  3. Understand and work with the IT infrastructure of cloud environments.

2. Artificial intelligence (AI)

You could have guessed that I was going to mention artificial intelligence. After all, it’s become a conversation topic in pretty much all work spheres. This is all thanks to deep learning AI software such as ChatGPT, which has taken the world by storm.

Of course, this means that your manager has heard about it. And there’s definitely going to be strategic consideration about the implementation of AI. This means upskilling in several areas of AI, including:

  • Machine learning (ML): In short, machine learning is training a machine to learn, adjust, and improve from different datasets. Becoming acquainted with tools that help develop ML models, such as Keras and TensorFlow, is a great way to secure yourself in the workforce. 
  • Deep learning: As a subset of machine learning, deep learning is based on the human brain’s neural structure. Deep learning models are able to identify very complex relationships and patterns. 
  • Natural language processing (NLP): This aspect of AI helps machines comprehend human language. It includes variables such as speech recognition, dialog management, intent recognition, and much more. Become familiar with these techniques and NLP libraries such as NLTK.  

Upskilling in deep learning techniques such as convolutional neural networks (CNNs), recurrent neural networks (RNNs), and generative adversarial networks (GANs) will set you in a great career path as well. 

3. Robotics

And since we’re on the topic of AI, why don’t we cover robotics? After all, we’re all looking forward to the (ideally non-dystopian) future where robot butlers make breakfast in the morning, and our house is almost like a living entity.

It’s exciting, albeit somewhat scary.

We can’t miss the value of robotics. Understanding the programming, control, and motion planning involved with robotics is a fantastic idea for someone with ambition who’d like a career that will stand the test of time.

Developers should become familiar with robotics platforms such as Gazebo and come to understand all that robotics incorporates.

In a nutshell:

Programming involves defining (1) decision-making processes, (2) actions, and (3) behaviors of a robot. 

Motion planning involves determining pathways for robots to take, making them avoid obstacles, and optimizing motions.

Control involves regulating the robot’s behaviors and actions and also examines higher-level decision-making. To perform as needed, this will involve algorithms, software, and hardware. 

The top 3 soft skills for success

Now that I’ve gone through the top three technical skills, let’s explore the top three soft skills that devs should develop to survive and thrive in the current marketplace:

1. Adaptability

This soft skill applies to almost the entire workforce today, but it’s especially important to software engineers. As the world evolves, so do requirements and demands at work. And as it stands, it’s adapt or succumb.

Adaptability in the tech sphere of things means several things:

1. Workers must be willing to upskill where needed and acquire new knowledge. This could mean taking yearly courses, attending webinars, or learning new skills online.

2. Workers must be willing to discard old ways while acquiring new knowledge. This ties in nicely with my last point in soft skills, so please stay for that. 

3. Workers have to be willing to collaborate with other experts. In the coming years, companies may bring in someone to incorporate AI into their workflow. Adapting to this change is vital as businesses take advantage of innovation. 

2. Creativity

Creativity is undoubtedly crucial. While this could have always been said to be necessary, I can’t overstate how vital it is nowadays.

Here’s why:

There is software out there that can do your job. That’s just a fact. 

However, the human element is what helps us stand out. Bringing in creativity, making the most of our emotive capacity, and drawing innovation from this will go a long way to ensuring your place in the modern workplace (and possibly securing a promotion in the future).

3. Emotional intelligence

We all know the stereotype: the socially inept IT guy who crawls out from his hidden office to help an office worker with their tech problem. While there may have been a mild truth to this exaggeration, in today’s economy, emotional skills, including social skills, are essential.

Emotional intelligence incorporates many different things, including self-assurance, empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to relate well to others. 

The reason this is so important is because of how competitive the world is today. As we’ve shifted from a local to a global workplace, the talent pool available to employees has also grown.

We must learn to be the best of the best or, at the very least, maintain a growth mentality that keeps us getting better in every way. And that might mean improving our emotional lives to give us that edge. 

Set yourself up for the future with these key skills

Never in the history of humanity has change been so rapid. And with it comes some degree of job insecurity. That’s why it’s essential to be future-oriented and understand what will be needed from you five, ten, or fifteen years from now. Remember, the future is now.

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