Top Engineering Skills for Tomorrow’s Workforce
Which engineering skills can HR and L&D leaders focus on today to create a talent advantage tomorrow? Learn how today’s HR leaders are improving their ability to attract and retain top engineering talent.
In this age of heightened expectations and streamlined everything, the engineering function has become a difference-maker for a larger percentage of companies.
Engineers are largely responsible for designing and driving the experience that is your company. Whenever essential audiences like customers, prospective employees, current employees, and investors interact with your solution or your website, they’re likely engaging with engineering’s output.
Most of that output today is digital. Going forward, it’s generally assumed that engineers will play a significant role in the building algorithms and intelligent machines expected to further enhance the brand experience.
Many B2B companies these days continually struggle with hiring and retaining top engineering talent. According to estimates from the U.S. Labor Department, the global software engineer shortage will reach 85.2 million by 2030. By focusing on future skill needs, training, and upward mobility of your company’s engineers, HR leaders may be able to secure a critical talent advantage for their companies in the future.
By prioritizing tomorrow’s top engineering skills today, business leaders can position their companies to spend more time producing and less time rehiring and redeploying. With efficiency and effectiveness in mind, let’s dive into the top engineering skills for tomorrow’s workforce.
Which engineering skills are most in demand?
The following list of the most in-demand engineering skills does not, in all likelihood, match your company’s most in-demand engineering skills. Needs vary on a case-by-case basis in this versatile area of business. That said, perhaps this list can help you kickstart a conversation with engineering leaders and other important stakeholders at your company.
The top engineering skills in highest demand today are:
- Python programming language
- Cascading style sheets (CSS)
- Cloud computing
Why do these engineering skills matter today?
You probably noticed that nearly all of the skills listed above are technical in nature. Here’s a little more on each skill, including why it’s important to the engineering function today:
Java is a popular programming language among executives because platform independence is thought to increase scalability and profitability. The performance and dependability of Java make it a favorite for exacting engineers.
SQL is more or less essential for communicating with databases. It's a go-to programming language used by data engineers to create database management systems.
Python programming language has a simplified syntax that makes it more understandable, accessible, and powerful. The language can handle large data sets, which makes it a handy skill to have around if your company wants to build algorithms.
Cascading style sheets (CSS) may seem like an odd inclusion here, but it’s a useful skill for engineers to have. All those digital solutions need to render correctly, and companies often count on engineers to make sure they do. Since it’s relatively easy to learn, CSS may be a good candidate for professional skills development.
HTML is the most basic language to learn for web development. While not the most-used skill for engineers, it signals to employers that an engineer has foundational web development knowledge.
Management isn’t an engineering skill, per se, but it is a skill that can make a huge difference in the engineering department. Management can also be a good focus for professional skills development.
Cloud computing can work wonders in terms of accessibility and flexibility. The enhanced performance made possible by cloud computing is also what makes it such a powerful skill to possess.
Git, a DevOps tool used for source code management, is known for its ability to facilitate distributed collaborative working. Used by nearly 95% of all programmers, Git listed as a skill may imply that a software engineer is keen on organization and collaboration.
C++ has a wide variety of applications in engineering, and is commonly found in the simulation software used by electrical and mechanical engineers. It’s considered a low-level language, which means that engineers who know it have a high understanding of how computers think and operate.
As for which engineering skills to focus on, HR leaders must balance the future skills needs with current needs. Current needs come first, clearly. But future skill needs should also be weighed, even more so in a high-leverage function like engineering where competition for top talent can be fierce.
To ensure that future engineering skills are being rightly prioritized in hiring and L&D practices, we must first identify those skills.
Get to know your engineering skills gap
What if you could eliminate, or at least narrow, your company’s talent gap in critical functions like engineering? What kind of difference would that make? Getting to know the engineering skills your company will need allows you to strategically incorporate those skills into your hiring and training practices.
Information about future skills needs should come from a variety of sources. Of course you’ll want to pay attention to what your CEO and executives are saying about engineering skills. You’ll also want to get a better understanding of how the department operates. What opportunities exist to make working in your engineering department more attractive? Employee surveys, including onboarding surveys and exit interviews, can be very enlightening in this regard.
Once you’ve identified your top engineering skills, try a three-pronged approach to address skill gaps in your organization. Doing so can allow you to keep future skills front and center whenever you’re hiring, professionally developing, and creating opportunities for engineers at your company. Approaching the talent gap from several fronts is also the surest way to find success.
By strengthening training and opportunity development, companies can simultaneously improve their ability to attract top engineering talent — 89% of L&D professionals agree that proactively building employee skills will help navigate the future of work.
Try using recognition and incentives to build priority skills internally
As detailed in the Workplace Learning Report, the team at Rock Content recently experimented with an idea that combined recognition and incentives to wonderful effect.
“We measure who spends the most time learning each week, assigning extra points to the skills we most want employees to learn,” says Ariel Mendes, HR Global Learning and Development Leader. “At the end of the month, we publicize the top five employees who spent the most time learning, recognize them at all-company meetings, and give them financial rewards.”
Mendes says many employees have doubled their weekly learning time since the experiment started. “At first, we worried that employees would spend too much time learning and not deliver on their jobs," he admits.
But the results since have alleviated those concerns. “We have found the opposite to be true,” says Mendes. “People who are top learners are also top performers. And those top performers are helping build a stronger employee brand name, and share what they learn with other employees.”
Create an engaged and resilient engineering function
Empowering your engineers with career development tools and internal mobility options can lead to higher learner engagement, helping to expand critical workforce skills. Individuals can make enormous strides all by themselves. They don’t need a large-scale initiative, and learning leaders don’t need the obstacles that commonly come with them.
The ultimate benefit of enhanced career development and internal mobility is agility. An agile learning environment allows companies to act quickly on valuable opportunities.
Retain engineering talent with learning
Having recently experienced unprecedented employee turnover, HR leaders have made retention a priority. LinkedIn’s 2023 Workforce Learning Report revealed that 93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention.
To help reduce skills shortages and turnover risk, HR and L&D are focusing more on helping current employees grow and advance. “Providing learning opportunities” is the No. 1 way organizations are working to improve retention.
What makes learning an effective retention tool?
Learning correlates with a sense of growth, advancement, and adaptability. Three of the top five factors for considering a new job have to do with learning and development (below). If people have opportunities to learn and develop, they will be less inclined to seek those opportunities elsewhere.
Compensation and benefits
Flexibility to work when and where I want
Challenging and impactful work
Opportunities for career growth within the company
Opportuntities to learn and develop new skills
Internal mobility boosts retention and builds workforce skills
Highlighting career paths based on your organization’s goals is both good for your engineers and good for your business. Helping your engineers make internal moves can also help with retention.
At the end of the two-year mark, an employee who has made an internal move has a 75% likelihood of staying. On the flipside, an employee who hasn’t made an internal move has a 56% chance of staying.
Promotions aren’t the only path to career progress. The simple act of encouraging and recognizing employee progress can be a big motivator.
Whether they’re learning a new skill, taking on a stretch project, or expanding their network, your engineers want encouragement and recognition. They deserve it as well. As your engineers build their skills and grow their networks, that upward mobility translates to organizational agility.
Create a culture of lifelong learning
LinkedIn Learning is designed to empower your L&D professionals, managers, and individual learners alike with all the tools and resources they need to benefit from your employee training software. Help your engineers get started with achieving their own personal and professional goals and building the skills they need to thrive now and in the future.
Two learning paths that may be of particular interest to forward-looking engineers and talent professional include:
The Top Skills Engineering Professionals Have Right Now — Engineers can explore today’s most important engineering skills, learn relevant skills for each role, and learn how to keep up with their peers and advance their careers.
Essential New Skills in Software Engineering — Gives engineers visibility into trending skills needed as a software engineer and provides foundational knowledge in the forms of agile development and software development best practices.
The best way to understand how employee training software will drive learning engagement in your organization is to see it in action. Get started with LinkedIn Learning today, and watch how your learners respond.