Too Few Candidates to Fill Growing Number of Open Source Jobs

Open source hiring has been hampered by a lack of trained job-takers, according to The Linux Foundation, which released its sixth annual summary of career opportunities in open source last week. The report provides an overview of open source career trends, along with factors that motivate industry professionals, and methods employers use to attract and retain qualified talent.

The 2017 report, developed in cooperation with Dice, follows the research approach taken in last year’s report, with a focus on all aspects of open source software. The four previous reports focused more specifically on Linux professionals.

This year’s survey of more than 280 hiring managers and more than 1,800 open source professionals around the globe uncovered a growing need for open source talent in the already highly competitive market.

Almost 90 percent of hiring managers reported difficulties acquiring qualified talent for open source jobs. They expected to hire more professionals for open source positions than for other roles in the next six months.

The availability of open source talent also is set to increase in the next six months.

The most commonly filled open source positions, based on the survey, were developer, DevOps engineer and systems administrator. Open source cloud, application development, big data, DevOps and security were the most in-demand skills.

“Talent drives innovation. If we can not equip enough candidates with the knowledge and skills required for the newest jobs, technology development could stall,” warned George McFerran, executive vice president of product and marketing at Dice.

“Technology is the underpinning of modern-day society, so this is something we can not accept,” he told LinuxInsider.

Report Highlights

There is an expanding career path for open source professionals, the report found.

“As open source has become the building blocks of all technology development, staying knowledgeable and connected and current on the latest skills will lead to lucrative careers,” McFerran said.

However, the gap between job openings and qualified job-takers is widening as companies strive to cut time to market with innovative products and gain greater efficiency in operations using open source.

Other findings:

  • Sixty-seven percent of managers said the hiring of open source professionals would increase more than other areas of their company’s business in the next six months.
  • Sixty percent said their companies were looking for full-time hires, compared with 53 percent last year.
  • Forty-seven percent said their companies were willing to pay for employees to become open source certified.

The most common positions employers were seeking to fill: developer (73 percent); DevOps engineer (60 percent); and systems administrator (53 percent).

The open source skills most in demand: cloud (47 percent); application development (44 percent); big data (43 percent); DevOps (42 percent); and security (42 percent).

Bright Jobs Forecast

The future looks bright for many open source job seekers, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. The combination of strong demand for a range of positions with skills shortages is likely to drive up wages and enhance benefits packages.

“Not surprisingly, workers [skilled in] higher-level areas like app development, DevOps, cloud and big data are in higher demand,” King told LinuxInsider, “but acquiring those skill sets is within the capabilities of many IT professionals.”

Industries are seeing an upswelling of open source software. Accompanying that trend is the realization among corporations that open source actually is cheaper, faster and of higher quality, noted Clyde Seepersad, general manager of training and certification for The Linux Foundation.

The challenge is that when you move to the open source model, you do not find the traditional on-ramps that are available when you deal with a major proprietary software company behind it, he told LinuxInsider.

Still, “it does not mean that we can’t build a product for sale using it,” said Seepersad.

Playing Catch-Up

Open source has become a significant force in the data center, displacing or supplanting many longstanding enterprise operating environments, said Pund-IT’s King. In other words, the Linux revolution is over, and open source won.

“That said, given the speed at which IT and customers change, many job prep schools and groups end up trying to catch up with emerging trends,” he said.

That gap in skills training impacts a company’s in-house IT skills pool as well, noted The Linux Foundation’s Seepersad. Open source is developing at such a fast clip that it’s not easy to get up to speed.

“It is harder to catch up if you have to do everything yourself. It is not impossible if everybody follows a well-structured program to bring you into the ecosystem. That is where the gap is,” Seepersad said.

Employers are seeing that they have to invest in training their staff without fearing that their employees will use the open source training to get a job elsewhere, he explained.

Closing the Gap

It is clear that open source is a strong bet for any tech pro, with employers and recruiters actively seeking out this talent, according to Dice’s McFerran.

It will be essential that job preparation programs and skills assessments and certifications stay up to date on the newest projects and programming languages.

That means putting the knowledge into the hands of tech pros to help them navigate the changing landscape.

“Technology development is moving faster than ever before, and so must employers and candidates to keep up,” McFerran said. “The quickest remedy to the shortage of skilled open source workers is continuing to broaden the pool of candidates across genders, geographies and industries.”

Toward that end, said Executive Director Jim Zemlin,The Linux Foundation will continue its efforts to make quality training and certification accessible to individuals all over the world who want to contribute to the open source community and pursue rewarding careers.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.Email Jack.

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