5 dead-end IT skills and how to manoeuvre it becoming obsolete

The world of tech is constantly evolving and with it comes different changes to in-demand skills. As an IT professional, the best way to future-proof your career amidst these changes is to broaden your skills beyond niches that were previously in high demand.

 According to a survey by Deloitte, a large percentage of CIOs have admitted that in the next three years, one-third of their staff’s current skills may not be relevant. With the IT landscape rapidly evolving, employers are seeking talent that possesses skills that align with the organization’s future needs.

To avoid being stuck in a dead-end and putting your IT career at risk, here are some current IT skills that are nearing the end of their life cycle—and how you can quickly upskill to a more established skillset that will keep your IT career flourishing no matter the times.

1. On-premises and legacy IT skills

Even before the spread of COVID-19 and its accompanying business revolution, cloud-based services have been on a steady increase. Today, the rise in remote and hybrid work environments has drastically reduced the need for on-premises IT personnel.

Therefore, if your skills are purely focused on deploying and maintaining legacy systems and physical hardware, you may experience career limitations sooner than later.

2. Being proficient in just one programming language

If you’re a programmer who has expertise in just one “in-demand” programming language, you may be tempted to feel some false sense of security.

“In the past, a tech pro could use one technology for a decade — it’s no longer the case.”

Ivan Panchenko, co-founder and deputy CEO at Postgres Professional.

Technological innovations are happening very quickly. Anything from a bad design decision, a change in licensing model, or a major acquisition by a close competitor can lead to loss of interest in many popular programming languages and frameworks by users.

It is important to add more than one programming language to your skillset and be proficient in multiple new technology stacks to avoid becoming redundant.

3. Quality assurance

Contrary to popular opinion, a lot of IT skills have short lifespans and for those who are focused on script testing, they’re at high risk of fading out.

“At the moment, the IT skills nearing the end of their life cycle include manual test and SQL. These are being progressively replaced by UX/UI, cross-functional team members with automated test skills and cloud-based engineers often with specialist skills in big data.”

Tony Lysak, CEO at the Software Institute.

Currently, there’s a massive tilt towards automation and standardization which is phasing out the need for robust quality assurance teams. Therefore, IT professionals in this category should look towards new opportunities in security, data, and analytics.

4. Data center ops

Despite the rise in cloud computing, data centers are here to stay are not anywhere anytime soon. There are still several businesses that are heavily reliant on data centers, but the skills required in maintaining them will become less relevant over time due to optimization.

“We’re in a major shift towards consuming more cloud resources and leaving the lower-level data center duties to others. There will be far less new data center buildouts and more reuse of existing data center capacity as IT departments shift to the cloud.”

Renato Mascardo, CTO of Accela.

To remain relevant, data center operations engineers would need to start familiarizing themselves with running different operations in the cloud—which will require a new set of skills to learn.

5. Hard IT skills

Many tech teams now require high levels of collaboration to continue working at optimum capacity and it’s no longer enough to just have hard skills, soft skills are becoming a major requirement too.

The ability to communicate effectively will see tech professionals stand out from their peers and relying only on hard skills will leave you in the clutch. Having the required soft skills alongside domain knowledge will allow for easier understanding and collaboration amongst business peers.

Ultimately, the key to future-proofing your IT career is ensuring that you can combine multiple skills to consistently be of value to the business.