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AI integral to future of software development jobs

Insaaf Daniels, Human Capital Director at redPanda Software.

One can barely read anything relating to technology in 2024 that does not refer to artificial intelligence (AI). This is not because it is trendy for a trend’s sake, but because – as the 2024 OfferZen State of Software Development Nation Report found – most developers recognise AI as the most promising IT sector. The giant leaps forward in recent years have triggered excitement and fear in almost equal measure about the possibility for, and fate of, industries, careers and jobs.

However, from a software development perspective, it is important to acknowledge that while the future of this industry is completely intertwined with AI, it’s not intertwined in the sense that AI will replace software roles, but rather it will transform them. The unique skills and creativity – that form part of the very humanity of people – will stand them in good stead as AI becomes more advanced. Humans will determine how AI is deployed and leveraged, and their creativity and problem-solving capability will unleash innovation in software development.

As AI becomes increasingly more integrated into the development process, software developers are already finding new ways to streamline tasks, optimise workflows and uncover insights that were previously inaccessible. This is exciting because it means that there is a relationship between AI and human ingenuity that is propelling South Africa’s software development sector into a new era of productivity and innovation.

However, let’s not forget that there is a skills crunch and retaining talent is going to continue becoming increasingly difficult. Another trend highlighted in the OfferZen report that has people talking is the shift toward hybrid working. While remote work remains highly desirable among developers, some companies simply no longer allow fully remote work. While the reaction to this from workers has been varied, companies need to balance operational needs with the evolution in employee preference because it is crucial for retaining talent in a skills-scarce environment.

Those that manage to attract and retain IT talent haven’t done so by chance. Yes, salary remains the primary reason for people looking for new jobs. This is true for all careers, not just software development. However, according to the OfferZen report, poor management and limited growth opportunities also weigh heavily on developers who then may make decisions to seek employment elsewhere. This means that people management is incredibly important in this industry, and businesses that keep their staff are those that prioritise professional development and build clear career roadmaps. This investment in an engaged and satisfied workforce goes a long way towards retaining skills.

We certainly find that software developers are increasingly valuing and taking up opportunities for skills development and career advancement. In the context of AI and the ever-evolving industry, this type of environment makes sense, not just from a business perspective but also in terms of future-proofing development careers. In our experience, the emphasis should be on acquiring advanced technical skills alongside soft skills such as strategic thinking and problem solving. Beyond seeking out roles that offer continuous learning opportunities, developers value mentorship and the possibility to work on innovative projects that push their capabilities.

This isn’t all theoretical. We have found that offering structured career discussions and growth plans, training programs, certifications and diverse projects, in addition to a flexible, hybrid working model, promotes both productivity and well-being among developers.

In South Africa, companies are increasingly prioritising equal opportunities and fair treatment, including pay equity. Legal obligations compel companies to adhere to standards that have helped narrow the gender gap. Additionally, collaboration among private companies, government, educational institutions and nonprofits has fostered a concerted effort to tackle gender inequality, particularly by actively recruiting and nurturing female talent within the technology sector. This is a great advancement, and opens up career opportunities for women in an industry that has historically been dominated by men.

Software developers would do well to keep abreast of the latest advancements in both actual technology, as well as what is happening in the industry. Continuously upskilling and adapting to new technologies can significantly boost one’s employability. Especially in the age of AI, developers should aim to position themselves in roles and companies where they can see themselves making an impact, and where they have the opportunity to develop their careers.

Originally Appeared Here

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