Software Developers: What skills are required?

Written on August 9, 2021 by Louise Kilburn

The IT industry is facing a skills shortage at many levels, including amongst software developers. Agile Recruit has identified six key steps senior software engineers can take to upskill their software development teams to bridge this gap.

These days, most business leaders want to hire individuals who already have all the skills and experience they require to hit the ground running, but this is becoming exceedingly difficult. This is especially the case when finding software developers with the advanced skills needed to work on digital transformation initiatives and modern cloud architectures.

The lack of advanced skills available in the current job market is a challenge that can be overcome – if senior software engineers move towards upskilling and reskilling their current employees and new hires. If your succession planning is up to date, then you should be aware of what the future demands on your software developers will be. You can then plan to develop their skills in these areas ahead of time – so they can not only enhance your business technical capabilities but also allow you to access a broader range of skills in-house.

Six steps for expanding your software developer skills

Step One: Identify existing skills and skills that will be needed in the future

The first step is to identify the software development skills required for your business to succeed.

Think about your existing technologies within the business and how these might be enhanced and modernised in the future. You could also get your HR department involved to help you create a skills matrix for software developers.

You will want to consider four critical things:

  • Architecture and design – cloud-native, data architecture, MASA, SOA, user experience and so on
  • Competencies – business acumen, design thinking and so on
  • Technical Skills – development platforms, programming languages, tools and so on
  • Working methodologies – Agile, Kanban, and so on

Step Two: Identify gaps in existing knowledge

The second step is a skills gap analysis of your existing software development team – what skills do your team currently have, and what is missing?

It is a good idea to talk to your software development team about why you are doing this exercise – reinforcing that it is about evaluating the organisation’s abilities as a whole and not about judging individuals performance.

Step Three: Communicate the benefits of upskills to all employees

All business leaders should instil a drive to learn into their employees, encouraging them to be self-starters and understand technical and managerial skills that will improve both them and the business.

There are three elements of motivation that are key to upskilling, according to Daniel Pink, and they are:

  • Autonomy: letting your team figure out the best way to get the job done and removing any roadblocks in their way
  • Mastery: ensuring employees receive recognition from peers as well as managers
  • Purpose: ensuring employees are clear on how their work impacts business growth

 Step Four: Hire people with a base level of skills, and upskill them.

While you are in the process of upskilling your existing software development team – hire people with a base level of skills and create opportunities for them to upskill as well. They will become valuable assets for your organisation, broadening their horizons and developing even more outstanding business acumen.

Step Five: Create continuous learning opportunities for your developers

Consider putting your developers into dynamic situations where they can learn and apply new skills quickly in a less time-consuming way. Group activities such as innovation labs and hackathons can help build valuable knowledge and bring the team closer together.

Step Six: Allow employees dedicated time for learning

Your employees are probably dealing with a large backlog of work at the moment, but it is also crucial for them to allocate time for learning within their working week.

If you want to break into the world of software development or are looking to strengthen your software development team, please get in touch with Agile Recruit today. You can call us on 0161 416 6633 or email us at info@agilerecruit.com