ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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Volume 16, Issue 6, March 24, 2020

DevOps Talent: IT Leaders Face Hiring Challenges in 2020
The Enterprisers Project, March 12

Finding and attracting skilled DevOps talent continues to be the biggest hurdle for enterprises, according to a new report by the DevOps Institute. The Enterprise DevOps Skills Report found that upskilling and retraining needs to be a higher priority for enterprises that want to hire and retain the best talent for DevOps. The report examines the top human, functional, and technical skill categories and the must-have skills needed for current DevOps professionals. The second annual report gathered insights and data from more than 1,200 IT professionals around the world.

Finding and retaining skilled DevOps professionals continues to be the biggest challenge for IT leaders in 2020. A majority of respondents (58 percent) said finding skilled DevOps individuals is a challenge, and nearly half (48 percent) say it is difficult to retain skilled DevOps professionals. In particular, several key verticals are eager to find DevOps and technology talent, especially financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, and technology. Going forward, DevOps professionals must be hybrid and equipped within three key skill categories. The top three must-have skill categories in 2020 are process skills and knowledge (69 percent of respondents), automation skills (67 percent of respondents), and human skills (61 percent of respondents), according to the report. This is a change from the 2019 research, where automation skills ranked highest, beating out process skills and knowledge.

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Where AI Jobs Are Exploding in Number
Fortune, March 10

Within the U.S., just four states dominate the demand for machine learning, data science and AI-related skills: California, Washington, New York and Massachusetts. Together, they account for 90 percent of all advertised jobs that required advanced AI skills, and 60 percent of all AI jobs. Given that these states host the headquarters and large branch offices of major tech companies with AI operations, that is not surprising. But, as the cost of living skyrockets in many of these popular tech hubs, demand for AI talent is rapidly picking up steam in five other states: Colorado, Utah, Virginia, Texas and Arizona.

In order to understand what is happening internationally and across industry sectors, CB Insights looked at which AI-related startups are doing best. To generate a list of the Top 100 AI startups, CB Insights combined different indicators of R&D strength (such as patents), with data on funding, existing customers and potential market sizes. U.S.-based startups dominate the list, accounting for more than half of the 100 companies. Surprisingly, China, despite its AI ambitions and leadership in some areas such as facial recognition, had just four startups in the top 100. There were some very notable absences from the list. For example, there were no startups from Australia or New Zealand, none from tech powerhouse South Korea, and just one each from the entire continents of South America and Africa.

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Demand For Augmented, Virtual Reality Engineers Skyrocketed in 2019
CIO Dive, March 18

Job posts seeking augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) engineers jumped 1,400 percent in 2019, according to the 2020 State of Software Engineers report from Almost three-quarters of software engineers predict the enterprise sector will see the full impact of AR and VR technologies over the next 5 years. Another 46 percent of engineers place AR and VR among the top three technologies they would most like to learn in 2020, second only to machine learning. Salaries ranges for engineers in these fields can range from $135,000 to $150,000 in cities such as New York and San Francisco.

To keep up with hiring demand in the fields of AR and VR, managers should sharpen their focus on the technical skills of a candidate, rather than the educational background. While 50 percent of software engineers have a computer science degree, another 32 percent either taught themselves to code or learned through a coding boot camp. In general, the higher the interest in one specific technology, the more companies need to build internal skills. Without key talent in these fields, companies may need to turn to third-party contractors for help.

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Quantum Computing: Will It Actually Produce Jobs?
Dice Insights, March 17

The race to develop quantum computers is leading some tech industry insiders to predict that there could be a sudden surge in demand for IT talent with the ability to develop business applications for quantum computing. For example, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and other firms are all investing significant resources in quantum computing research, hoping for a breakthrough that will make them a leader in this nascent industry. However, questions abound about quantum computing, including whether these systems will actually produce the answers that companies really need, and whether or not quantum computing will actually produce jobs at scale.

The large tech companies and research laboratories that are leading the charge on R&D in the quantum computing space are looking for people with advanced degrees in key STEM fields like physics, math and engineering. This is in large part because there are few programs today that actually offer degrees or specializations in quantum technology. More recently, universities like MIT and Columbia have been investing in offering this training to current students, but it is going to take awhile to produce experts. There is every chance that increased demand for quantum-skilled technologists could drive even more universities to create and develop the right kind of training and education programs. Without these efforts, the talent and skills gap in the quantum computing field could widen significantly over the next several years.

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5 Best Entry-Level Tech Jobs
IT Pro, March 18

For recent graduates looking to get a jump on a great career, there are five entry-level tech jobs that provide an abundance of opportunities, including computer support specialist, web developer, database administrator, software developer and information security analyst. In some cases, these positions pay six-figure annual incomes, and often come with a host of workplace perks. Just keep in mind that the median pay for these entry-level tech jobs varies by industry as well as by geography. Higher-paying positions will often be in regions with higher costs of living. The good news is that these entry-level positions come with attractive long-term growth rates.

Web developer remains one of the best entry-level tech jobs for recent graduates. Web developers are responsible for bringing the vision of a client to fruition, whether that means creating a high-end ecommerce site or an interactive gaming site. Different types of websites require different types of applications. This means web developers should be able to handle a variety of development-related tasks. From developing user interfaces by utilizing standard HTML/CSS practices to integrating payment-processing applications, the job of a web developer is to build a website from the bottom up. With the rising need for web developers, those interested in pursuing this entry-level tech job should know education requirements for this job do vary. While some companies require some form of university degree, many employers will also hire web developers with a working knowledge of HTML, JavaScript and SQL. Between now and 2028, opportunities for web developers will grow by 13%, much faster than for other occupations.

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6 Key Interview Questions to Help Find the Most Productive Candidate
Silicon Republic, March 18

The key to improving the productivity of the workforce starts with the interview process. Recruiting employees who are ambitious and self-motivated is a proven path to creating an effective workforce. Recruiters can measure for these characteristics, but it involves asking the right questions. While asking a candidate how to describe a typical working day in his or her current role is one of the most commonly asked interview questions, only a small portion of hiring managers ask this question with the objective of measuring productivity. What employers really need to be looking out for as they ask this question is whether the candidate has a clear structure to their day. People who can structure their day and assign certain routines and processes in place are usually the most productive.

For insights into the productivity of candidates, interviewers can ask questions designed to analyze how they prioritize their workplace tasks. Productive and self-managed candidates will usually have their own system for prioritizing their tasks, which will include deciding what to complete straight away, what to add to a to-do list and how they prioritize the tasks on this to-do list. However, if the candidate struggles to answer this question, or fails to include any of the above points, then chances are they are not used to prioritizing their own workload, and therefore will not be as productive in making sure it gets completed. Candidates should also be able to explain how they focus in a distracting environment. In the digital workplace, it can often be hard to focus on the task at hand. This can be even harder if you work in a busy environment with multiple conversations happening across the room at once, or if you have a lot of conflicting responsibilities and demands. Workplace distractions are the biggest hindrance to productivity, so productive employees will have certain techniques that help them to focus.

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The Top Soft Skills You Need to Improve Your Career, March 11

Soft skills like being a good coach, communicating and listening well, being a good critical thinker and being able to make connections across complex ideas appear to be more important for long-term career success than traditional STEM skills. Despite this fact, many IT professionals focus primarily on developing their technical skills in order to improve and advance their careers. While hard skills are important, organizations today are looking for professionals that possess strong soft skills as well. After all, even if you are the best at coding, you will not be able to advance your career if you do not know how to work well with others or develop creative and effective solutions.

Creativity is one of the top soft skills employers are looking for, even in a technical field like software engineering. Creative people are able to develop new ideas and apply new solutions to address existing problems, which will allow businesses to discover new opportunities for innovation and growth. There are a number of ways to boost your creativity via collaborating with others, asking for feedback, writing down your ideas, or solving a puzzle. Social intelligence is another key trait very much in demand. Social intelligence is the ability to get along with others, build relationships and navigate social environments. Social intelligence is necessary if you want to build meaningful and successful relationships with people in an organization. The key elements of social intelligence include verbal fluency and conversational skills, as well as knowledge of social roles, rules, and scripts.

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Remote Work in IT Could Become a Permanent Trend
Tech Republic, March 17

The option to work remotely part time or a couple of days a week has long been a desirable perk to attract IT workers. Now, it may become the norm, especially in IT, which has the experience and the technical support to work remotely. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately one-third of workers currently have the ability to work from home on an average day. If the ongoing worldwide pandemic forces even more companies to adopt remote working options for their IT workers, companies are going to need to boost that figure significantly.

IT is particularly well suited for working remotely. Thanks to the offshoring of technical resources and distributed team structures a decade ago, working remotely has been a long trend in IT. This trend allowed companies to learn how to be effective in managing communication between employees. Most technologists are constantly balancing the need to stay connected with their teammates to work out interdependencies while creating enough personal time to code and problem-solve. The Dice 2020 Salary Report revealed that an overwhelming majority of technologists (93%) want to work remotely at least some of the time. However, despite that overwhelming desire, only 60 percent of respondents said they had the opportunity to actually work from home at the start of the year. Given that desire, employers will likely see the same level of productivity if workers opt not to go back to an office. From a lifestyle perspective, there is no question that most technologists prefer a partial work-from-home option.

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Here Is Why Clear Code Is Vital For Every Project
Blog @ CACM, March 12

Many top-tier programmers emphasize clean code in their work, and for many companies, a quick way to separate talented, dedicated programmers from run-of-the-mill talent is to look at how clean their code is. Yet, what is just as important as clean code is clear code. Clean code provides a solid foundation but it is not enough for exceptional code. In short, if you cannot understand the clean code, it is still difficult to work with, and there is a risk you will misinterpret something.

Clean code that is clear and easy to understand is relatively rare because a lot of less talented programmers simply throw code together and only care if it functions. Unfortunately, even talented programmers do not spend a lot of time considering how clear their code is. A talented programmer may not even feel there is a need to write clear code, as long as they understand the code. But when someone else comes along (such as a talented junior programmer), they might have to spend hours simply trying to figure out the meaning of the code. A truly exceptional programmer will consider whether or not other programmers can understand their code. He or she will strive to write beautiful, clear code that others will be able to work with easily.

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Beware of Hurting Our Weakest Students When Moving Classes Online
Blog @ CACM, March 10

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many universities are moving their classes online, and all of this activity has faculty new to online classes scrambling for resources and guidance. The biggest cost of moving classes online will likely be the decreased learning and lower grades, particularly of the weakest students. Fully on-line classes can lead to less learning than face-to-face classes. Moreover, online learning has a differential impact on students. A 2013 paper studying 40,000 students found that students who come in with lower grades suffer the most in performance when moving online. Educators should keep this in mind, especially if the coronavirus pandemic lingers into the next school year.

For educators, the challenge is to move classes online in a way that meets student needs, especially those who most need support for personal motivation. Creating effective online learning opportunities starts by understanding how to create opportunities for engagement, discussion, and collaboration. All of these are critical for student learning in online settings. Too easily, students can turn on the video of the lecture and lose attention, or worse, engage in some other activity as the lecture drones on in the background. There are various ways to keep students engaged with online learning, like one-question Google forms and breakout groups supported by videoconferencing tools.

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