Open Source Job Skills in Red-Hot Demand in IT and the Channel: Study
Finding enough qualified and skilled open source developers to hire continues to be a problem for enterprises and the channel as the demand for open source administrators and code creators continues to climb.
That’s one of the key conclusions of a new 14-page study, the “2018 Open Source Jobs Report,” released by The Linux Foundation and IT employment website Dice.com, which found that Linux skills again lead the needs of some 80 percent of hiring managers around the world.
The study, which includes responses from more than 750 hiring managers at corporations, small and medium businesses, government organizations and staffing agencies across the globe, as well as input from more than 6,500 open source professionals, found that 87 percent of IT hiring managers said they are having trouble filling existing jobs due to a lack of open source skills in the talent pool.
Linux expertise is the highest-sought skill by some 80 percent of the hiring managers who responded to the study, while 48 percent of the respondents said they are working to increase the talent pool by actively supporting open source projects with code or other resources as they try to gain the interest of developers they might be able to recruit for open jobs.
About 55 percent of the employers said they are now also offering to pay for employee certifications, up from 47 percent in 2017 and 34 percent in 2016, as companies scramble to encourage and hire open source talent, the survey reported.
Some 57 percent of hiring managers say they are also seeking expertise in container skills such as Kubernetes, which is up from 27 percent reported in the 2017 edition of the study. This is the seventh year for the Linux Foundation/Dice open source jobs report.
Overall, 83 percent of hiring managers said that hiring open source talent is a priority for them, up from 76 percent in 2017.
To try to solve the open source job candidate shortfall, some businesses, particularly in the telecom industry, are joining open source projects to gain open source credibility, Heather Kirksey, the vice president of ecosystems and community for The Linux Foundation, told Channel Futures.
“It is challenging in the telecom industry because it’s not exactly the cool, hip industry that people coming out of college are thinking about for their career,” she said. “But it can be a recruitment tool when a company says it is doing open source. That resonates with folks.”
In addition, companies can also work to gain new open source experts by providing new skills to their existing developers through additional training, said Kirksey. To make such transitions successful, those “reskilled” employees also must also be trained in how open source communities are organized and how they work so the workers are comfortable working within the open source world, she added.
The Linux Foundation also works to help encourage and recruit future open source developers through internship programs through colleges, and those programs are having positive impacts, said Kirksey.
For channel partners, another key to help find skilled open source experts is to participate in open source communities on your own as well by encouraging existing staff members to work on open source projects, she said. “Look at core upstream components as places to get involved” and work to build relationships with open source participants who could then become interested in working for your company.
Clyde Seepersad, The Linux Foundation’s general manager of training and certification, agreed.
“We’ve actually put some channel partner programs in place because it’s been coming up more and more” to get involved more deeply with open source communities, he said. “Channel companies realize that their open source plans and their customers will struggle if they don’t have the open source talent on staff for the things that are being deployed.”
The Linux Foundation also offers self-paced training programs that can help developers gain needed open source skills.
For channel vendors, one of the key internal questions to ask is whether their customers have the skilled workers in place to take on open source products before deploying them, said Seepersad.
“Having a discussion with the customer about their talent pool, including who are the workers who will be putting this together using these open source projects and how well are they skilled” is critical, he said. “Are they ready and trained? If your sales team as a channel partner is not willing to have that conversation then you do run the risk that it’s not going to deliver for the customer.”
Art Zeile, the president and CEO of DHI Group, Inc., the parent company of Dice, told Channel Futures that one of the reasons the IT employment market is so hot today is that the unemployment rate for tech pros is 2.1 percent for 2018, which is the lowest it’s been since 2007.
“What used to be true technology companies looking for tech talent is now pervasive across every enterprise type,” said Zeile. “For example, there are major entertainment companies, insurance firms and healthcare providers all recruiting skilled open source professionals on Dice. As tech professionals remain in the driver’s seat with managing their careers, firms that promote tech pros to work on challenging and interesting assignments and offer on-the-job training will be better positioned to recruit the best.”
Dan Olds, principal analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group, said that employment within the channel can offer a different set of challenges for open source developers who are looking for better opportunities, compared to work in retail, banking, pharmaceuticals and other verticals.
“The channel is definitely seeing a tightening in the job market for skilled open source employees,” said Olds. “While working in the channel is highly rewarding for Linux practitioners, it can be difficult for channel organizations to compete with the pay, benefit, and advancement packages offered by large corporations.”
On the other hand, said Olds, “the channel is responsible for much of the adoption of open source and Linux in organizations. Linux and open source have always been grassroots evolutions, starting deep in the data center and then extending out. Channel partners have been the fertilizer helping Linux and open source spread out from the data center into the back and front office.”
Olds said he was particularly intrigued by a one statistic in The Linux Foundation/Dice study – that 81 percent of the Linux and open source professionals who responded saying that they heard from a headhunter in the previous six months.
“This is a huge number and it shows just how coveted these employees are in today’s job market,” said Olds. Combined with the 87 percent of hiring managers who said they are having trouble recruiting open source talent “and you can see why the job market for skilled open source and Linux people is red-hot today.”