ACM CareerNews for Tuesday, March 21, 2023

ACM CareerNews is intended as an objective career news digest for busy IT professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of ACM. To send comments, please write to [email protected]

Volume 19, Issue 6, March 21, 2023

How Many Jobs Are Available in Technology in the US?
Computerworld, March 10

Tech sector employment remains stable in 2023, according to the latest monthly figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In February, total tech employment fell by just 0.2%, while tech sector unemployment remains near the 2% level. The unemployment rate for tech occupations is still well below the national rate of 3.6%. Moreover, despite all the news of layoffs, tech occupations in the U.S. economy still total more than 6.4 million workers. Among all tech industries, tech manufacturing added a net new 2,800 jobs, the fifth consecutive month of positive gains.

The highest demand continues to be for security professionals, programmers, and blockchain professionals. Data analysts and AI professionals are also in high demand. The general belief is that there will be an economic downturn this year, and this is impacting all decisions around hiring new IT pros and increasing technology-related expenditures. In 2022, 267,000 new jobs were added to the IT market. Those new jobs were in addition to the 213,000 jobs created in 2021. In 2023, while there are more jobs being added, that number is declining. In January, for example, for the first time in 25 months, there was a net loss in the number of jobs in the IT job market.

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Artificial Intelligence Is Booming: How Will It Impact Your Career?
CNBC, February 20

Artificial intelligence could fuel a new technology job boom, thanks in part to the surge of interest around ChatGPT. The AI-powered chatbot has both impressed and shocked with its ability to answer questions, write computer code, and even argue legal cases. Its capabilities have led many to consider how artificial intelligence might impact their jobs and careers. And while concerns about AI technology taking over jobs have intensified, experts say that AI might actually end up creating new types of tech jobs.

It is now clear that AI will replace some jobs in the tech sector, the only question is which ones. Developments in artificial intelligence mean that technology can achieve more and more, and that will, of course, impact jobs. As physical machines, software systems, and combinations of hardware and software get more capable as a result of AI enablement, it is increasingly possible as well as economically viable to replace a greater share of the portions of the human work of today with machines. Certain roles are more vulnerable to this than others, especially ones that are highly repetitive or based on very specific instructions or rules that lay out what needs to be done. On the flip side, tasks that change often and therefore require things like adaptability and flexibility are harder for technology to replace. Jobs with a strong human element or that emphasize interpersonal skills are especially unlikely to be taken over by technology.

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Why Is It Still Difficult to Recruit Software Developers?
CIO Dive, March 3

More than one-third of IT professionals expect they will continue to struggle to recruit skilled developers in 2023, according to a new report. The list of the hardest-to-fill roles includes DevOps engineer, data analytics developer, and IT security engineer. More than three-quarters of respondents said their organizations have turned to low-code or no-code solutions as a response to the skills shortage.

Layoffs at Big Tech firms have not yet translated to an oversupply of technologists, as in-demand open roles continue to outnumber workers available to fill them. Even though the IT industry has seen a high volume of layoffs, companies are still finding it difficult to hire new workers, especially if these companies are not based in Silicon Valley. HR leaders, tasked with filling open roles, say they lack confidence in their ability to meet hiring targets, according to research from General Assembly.

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Best Tech Careers For 2023
Baseline, February 15

In recent years, artificial intelligence has become an increasingly popular tech career option, and AI-related career opportunities are growing steadily. AI is now reaching everywhere, and can be found in just about every industry or vertical. As a result, LinkedIn now ranks artificial intelligence expert as a top job to watch in coming years, both in terms of salary expectations and future job opportunities. Just keep in mind that artificial intelligence careers are not uniform. AI has different types of job titles and job functions that require specific skills and experiences.

Data scientist ranks as one of the best career options for 2023. Data scientists collect, analyze, and generate insights from data for a variety of purposes. They use a variety of technology tools, processes, and algorithms to derive knowledge from data and describe meaningful patterns. This can be as simple as identifying anomalies in time series data or as complex as anticipating future events and composing recommendations. Business intelligence (BI) developers are also in high demand. They measure complex internal and external input to identify trends. However, unlike data analysts, business intelligence developers do not create reports themselves. They are accountable for modeling, designing, and maintaining data in cloud-based information platforms.

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What an IT Career Will Look Like in 5 Years, March 16

Due to recent changes brought about by cutting-edge technologies, there are a handful of changes to the IT workplace that we will likely see by 2028. IT pros will work in environments that are more task-based than position-based, experts say, relying more on automation and AI, and using tools that are increasingly portable and powerful. At the same time, automation through AI in particular will need a human touch to review processes and results, creating a need for soft skills in the IT ranks that is greater than ever. Thus, even as tech skills in AI become even more prized, soft skills will also remain a top consideration for employers.

Driven in large part by new AI advancements, IT work will increasingly be automated over the next five years, according to those on the forefront of those changes. In addition to general workplace enhancements, automation will play a vital role across IT domains, including software development, both streamlining IT processes and increasing IT productivity. Organizations are facing a shortage of resources and talent, so they need to automate mundane, repetitive, and low-value tasks so that talent can work on more impactful projects. As a result, companies will automate low-skill tasks to reduce mental load and save time. In addition, some are now predicting that natural language processing (NLP) will work in tandem with automation to improve the technology that IT staff rely on in the near future. NLP has the ability to discern intent, context, and ambiguity within written text and speech, and this could lead to new gains in efficiency and flexibility.

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The Top 10 Tech Jobs That Require Coding and Programming
Make Use Of, February 20

Coding and programming are among the most in-demand skills in the tech industry. These skills are essential for many tech jobs, from creating software to developing websites. In most cases, programming and coding are the foundation of any tech-related job application, making it a skill that keeps growing and expanding. High-paying tech jobs that require coding and programming include computer programmer, web developer, and IT manager.

As might be expected, the top coding job is computer programmer. This role is responsible for creating the instructions that software programs and computers use to perform specific tasks. Computer programmers also work to fix any issues and improve the functionality of existing code. In addition, computer programmers write and test codes that facilitate software programs. They use computer languages such as Java and Python to write, debug, and maintain code. Furthermore, they work closely with software engineers and developers to ensure that the software meets an organization's needs. Web developers employ various programming languages to build websites and web-based applications. They may also maintain and update these sites and take user and client feedback into account when making improvements to the design and functionality. Specifically, they use languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create the front-end of a website and may also work with back-end technologies such as PHP, Ruby, and Python to create more dynamic websites.

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How Shift Shock Could Impact Your Next Job
Dice Insights, March 14

Shift shock refers to the dichotomy between expectations and reality when you start a new job or move to a new workplace. By some estimates, nearly 72% of job seekers have experienced this phenomenon at some point in their career. Moreover, 29% have experienced shift shock about the job and the company simultaneously. These statistics have broader implications for job candidates and managers in a range of industries, including tech. For example, it creates a morale and retention problem. Nearly 80% of people think that it is now acceptable to leave a new job before six months if it does not live up to expectations.

Even amidst economic uncertainty, workers are still making it clear they want certain things out of a job and they will quit if an employer does not deliver. Work-life balance is just one factor that can drive employees out the door. Nearly 42 percent of 2,363 respondents to a recent survey said that they would quit if their company issued a return-to-office mandate, while 45 percent would stick around only if a hybrid option (i.e., returning to the office just a few days per week) was offered. From an employer perspective, transparency about what the job entails (especially during the application and onboarding process) is potentially a big step toward averting shift shock. Making sure workers are happy with their compensation, job description, benefits and perks is another. Right now, there is a significant gap between the benefits that tech professionals have and want. 72 percent of tech professionals said that employer-sponsored training and education were important, but only 46 percent received training and education. As with work-life balance, a gap in desired benefits will compel workers to quit, especially if they thought those benefits would be available.

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How To Tell Your Boss You Are Unhappy At Work and Not Get Fired
Fast Company, March 16

If you are unhappy at work, you are not alone. According to a new Gallup poll, 19% of employees report being miserable at work, and 60% report feeling detached from their roles and responsibilities. Many workers never disclose their issues and end up leaving or being let go when burnout affects their ability to get work done. The good news is that employers do not want to lose dedicated workers, so this is no time to remain silent. If you have an issue at work, speak up. While it can be difficult at first to raise this issue with your boss, there are steps you can take to make this conversation seamless.

If you are unhappy in your current role, it is important to open a dialogue with your boss. It is completely acceptable to tell your boss that you are burnt out or that something is not working for you at work. In fact, if you are not happy in your position, the best thing you can do is talk to your manager. After all, companies should want their employees to enjoy what they do. Not only does job satisfaction keep great workers onboard, but companies with higher worker satisfaction typically outperform other companies. Timing is everything. Telling your boss or manager you are unhappy is not an easy way to start a conversation, so it is usually best to avoid busy or high-volume days. Having a productive discussion over a difficult topic will be easier when your boss is less stressed. Find a time to talk when there is not too much planned on the calendar, and make an appointment if possible. Giving your boss a heads-up will help them prepare to process information that might not be comfortable to digest.

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Why Businesses Must Untether Deep Learning
Blog@CACM, March 16

While it is clear that deep learning can deliver tangible results in the modern, AI-powered workplace, the applications of this technology are still being constrained by several different factors. Many of the limitations in terms of accuracy and ability can be addressed in the coming years as programmers and designers refine their algorithms and contribute even more training data. There is one constraint, though, that seems fundamental to the nature of deep learning. In fact, many developers almost accept it as the price of doing business. This constraint is the sheer computational power required to run it.

Deep learning involves running hundreds of millions or even billions of compute operations. The GPT3 model, which is the foundation for the wildly successful ChatGPT tool, is reported to have used 175 billion parameters, requiring hundreds of compute operations to train (which translates to millions of dollars) and even the finished product requires clusters of powerful, and expensive, processors to run effectively. While this hunger for processing power is not going to surprise anybody familiar with the technology, the limitations it imposes extend far beyond the need to buy more processors. It also makes it extremely difficult to run deep learning on a portable device, which is the kind of thing that people are likely to have in their home, bag, or pocket. This need for processing does not mean that we can not access AI tools on our mobile devices, of course. You can easily open a Web browser on your iPad and use it to produce all the AI-generated art, emails, and stories you could ever want, but the resource-heavy computation is handled on the cloud rather than locally. This cloud-based setup means that any device, tool, or application looking to take advantage of deep learning must be tied to the Internet. Unfortunately, it is not always feasible to have a reliable connection. Depending on where you are in the world, you may have limited bandwidth.

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Closing the Assessment Excellence Gap
eLearn Magazine, January 2023

With any digital assessment, there are certain requirements and expectations from stakeholders. Often, however, these digital assessments come up short. They fail to show what is causing the gap between what is expected and what is delivered. One possible reason for this gap is that assessments that focus on higher level skills (rather than just basic recall) are harder to evaluate, especially if inclusivity is not taken into consideration.

Effective digital assessment matters. Since digital assessment can act as a gateway for opportunities in life, it is only reasonable to hold it to a very high standard. Lifelong learning is crucial in the modern world, and education has become the great engine of personal development. It is through education that anyone can start a career in the tech sector and then quickly advance to other roles or functions. In the world of work, there is a huge focus on skills, so assessment will continue to play a huge role. According to a Deloitte CEO survey in January 2022, 71 percent of CEOs saw a skills shortage as being one of the top three external issues likely to influence or disrupt their business strategy in the next 12 months. Businesses that want to improve the ability of their organization to deal with the challenges of technology and globalization will use skill improvement and learning as a key part of their approach.

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