The top programming languages and tech skills needed in South Africa right now

Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and the Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) have launched a new study looking at South Africa’s IT industry.

The report shows that conditions have improved considerably since the 2008 survey where all respondents indicated that they were facing an IT skills shortage.

“Several factors can influence this trend, On the negative side, the stagnant economy has reduced the business prospects of the employers, thus reducing the demand for skills, although that is not borne out by the number of respondents saying the opposite,” the report states.

“On the positive side, the various initiatives to close the skills gap are bearing some fruit, whether the new resources are coming from immigrants, private sector / NGO skills programmes or better output from the education pipeline.”

Despite the need for skills no longer being as dire, the study shows that the average South African ICT practitioner continues to perform multiple task sets, with only a few identifying their role as ‘specialist’ in nature.

“This is a unique property of South African ICT practitioners, which makes us very different from our counterparts in Europe and the US and may partly have come about as a result of skills shortages,” said Adrian Schofield, production consultant at the IITPSA.

Skills needed 

The survey found that the skills most needed now and over the next year include:

  • Information Security/Cybersecurity;
  • DevOps;
  • Big data design/analytics;
  • Artificial intelligence/machine learning;
  • Blockchain;
  • Test automation/performance testing;
  • Internet of Things.

The chart below shows respondents’ view on which skills are most needed now and which in a year from now.

The indicators to look for are where the blue (now) and grey (next year) lines are clearly longer than the orange and yellow lines, which suggest a sufficiency of those skills.

The pattern of demand for programming languages in 2019 sees Python move into second place behind Java and ahead of C#.

In 2018 Java was in the lead, followed by C# and Python. .NET, C++, HTML and SQL followed.

In 2017 was Java the clear leader and C# in second place, unchanged from 2016. Python moved into the third spot, with .NET and C++ tied for fourth.

Of equal but lesser popularity, R, PHP, COBOL and Delphi all get mentioned. In 2016 the leading languages were also Java and C#, followed by VB.NET and PHP. 2014 was very similar to 2012, with Java, C#, .NET, C++ and VB the most popular.

Read: 5 unusual job titles in South Africa

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The top programming languages and tech skills needed in South Africa right now