According to Evans Data Corporation, there were 23.9 million software developers around the globe last year — and that number is projected to grow 20% to approximately 28.7 million in the next three years. But the software developer of the future is going to look much different than what we've become accustomed to, as rapidly-evolving educational modalities and new technologies that increase the velocity of shipping code are becoming available to anyone and everyone.
We are at an inflection point where technology, society, and culture are removing the barriers to entry that used to constrain developers. The result is a more diverse, creative, and high-output workforce. Here are four trends that I predict will continue to shift the day-to-day life of the software developer in 2021 and beyond:
Developer Platforms Will Help Engineers Focus More on Creative Solutions
With the advent of APIs, cloud computing, and microservices, software developers have finally received a true supply chain that extends from back-end infrastructure to front-end user experiences that work off-the-shelf. Gone are the days of building everything from scratch. The result is that engineers are being freed up from simply wrangling raw code. This allows for developers to operate in a more creative, user-centric space where they can focus on customer outcomes.
Informal and Alternate Education Paths Will Proliferate
As an industry, we're seeing numerous options being created to help students learn the ins and outs of software development without attending a four-year college. For example, The Lambda School is a coding boot camp that teaches students the necessary skills to enter a real-world development career — without accumulating college debt. Last year, four out of every five students from the program received job offers with a median salary of $70,000. These students have no four-year degree, yet possess the necessary skills to become successful developers.
I anticipate we'll see more programs like the Lambda School teaching coding skills in half the time and for half the cost than traditional programs while still placing students in high-paying positions. With access to modern technology and training, coding has become a strong equalizer and allows these new developers entering the market to contribute to the fastest-growing segment of the economy.
Devs Will be Tasked With Improving Remote Work Experiences Both Internally and Externally
As more and more companies revise their policies to embrace permanent remote work, we'll see new technology innovations emerge to solve the challenges of employee communications, collaboration, and productivity.
The global pandemic resulted in an instant acceleration of digital transformation in the enterprise. In 2021, companies will come to grips with the fact that generalized tools don't fit their unique workflows and styles, and look to adopt more flexible, configurable, and purpose-built technologies that address the need to keep employees productive in distributed, virtual workspaces. Developers will lead the charge in identifying and delivering solutions that help solve the problems inherent in remote work.
Companies Will Invest Heavily in Continuous Learning to Drive Innovation
I understand the value of learning on the job rather than in the classroom on a personal level. I didn't complete a traditional four-year degree because I knew I could gain more hands-on experience in the workforce.
Now as a CEO, a four-year college degree and high GPA isn't something I look for on a resume when I'm trying to hire the best and the brightest. With a willingness to learn, adapt to changing environments and support overarching business goals, anyone can achieve a career in software development. I foresee enterprises realizing the benefit of this, and providing more opportunities for developers to grow and learn on the job based on the changing needs of a specific industry or company.
Additionally, more companies will offer on-the-job training as a benefit. Rather than sending people to courses or events to learn, they'll offer in-office training as part of their company growth strategy.