Upskilling for the Next Normal
May 03, 2021

Jayne Groll
DevOps Institute

DevOps Institute recently released its Upskilling 2021: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report. In its third year, the data in the report is drawn from a global community survey of approximately 2,100 respondents. The Upskilling report focuses on the human elements of digital transformation by defining which skills are considered "must-have," "nice to have," and "not as important."


As you can imagine, the 2021 findings reflect the challenges of the past year. The DevOps journey is still considered difficult across the people, process and automation landscapes. There was a shift in the ranking of key skills domains putting automation at the top of essential skills followed closely by human and technical skills. As stated in the report, "This is not a surprise as COVID-19 creates a strong incentive to minimize the risk inherent to manual tasks and processes by automating them."

The demand for DevOps talent has grown, with recruiting now or in the future a top priority. It was heartening to see that 49 percent of respondents first look internally for hiring with 25 percent preferring to hire and train internal staff. Upskilling is a great opportunity for IT professionals to advance their careers inside their organization now and in the future. Even better, 70 percent of respondents said that their top DevOps way of working is building a learning culture with the safety culture second. However, there was little growth in the acceleration of organizational upskilling programs. Continuous learning is considered fundamental but not necessarily the basis of a formal program.

DevOps teams either stayed the same or expanded, but teams are becoming more multi-skilled and self-regulating. The question is "which skills?"

The Upskilling report segments skills into five key domains:


Automation Skills

This is the most important skill domain in 2021. The report examines specific automation tool categories and also found that more than half of respondents believe specific automation tool knowledge is a must have.

Human Skills

A focus on human skills helps improve DevOps culture. This report reveals that the top human skills include collaboration and cooperation, problem-solving, sharing and knowledge transfer.

Technical Skills

Leverage technical skills to unlock new potentials for innovations. The report identifies seven top technology trends and priorities. It also highlights the likely growth of investments in cybersecurity, communication and collaboration tools, and customer experience transformation.

Functional Skills

Functional skills and knowledge, when most effectively leveraged, will generate and empower a multi-disciplined team. A multi-disciplinary way of working appropriately utilizes knowledge, skills and best practices from multiple disciplines and functional boundaries.

Process and Frameworks Skills

2021 is the time to rewire for value alignment and continuous process improvements. The process and frameworks skills domain is the fifth most important domain according to 55 percent of respondents.

Whether you are a developer, security practitioner, or operations professional, the depth and breadth of the skills needed for today and in the future can be daunting. While automation and technical skills gained in priority, the importance of human skills was once again emphasized in the 2021 report. The top 15 DevOps skills crossed all five skill domains and is a strong recipe for the hybrid DevOps human of the new decade.


Upskilling is a human endeavor and a key contributor to personal and career growth. This past year was like no other. As we progress through the "next normal" of this decade, one thing is certain — digital transformation relies on human skills transformation.

This article is just a taste of the data contained in the 2021 Upskilling Report from DevOps Institute. I encourage you to download and process the full report here.

Jayne Groll is CEO of DevOps Institute
Share this

Industry News

May 19, 2022

Jellyfish announced the launch of Jellyfish Benchmarks, a way to add context around engineering metrics and performance by introducing a method for comparison.

May 19, 2022

Solo.io announced the addition and integration of Cilium networking into its Gloo Mesh platform, providing a complete application-networking solution for companies’ cloud-native digital transformation efforts.

May 19, 2022

Aqua Security announced multiple updates to Aqua Trivy, making it a unified scanner for cloud native security.

May 18, 2022

Red Hat unveiled updates across its portfolio of developer tools designed to help organizations build and deliver applications faster and more consistently across Kubernetes-based hybrid and multicloud environments.

May 18, 2022

Armory announced public early access to their new Continuous Deployment-as-a-Service product.

May 18, 2022

DataCore Software announced DataCore Bolt, enterprise-grade container-native storage software for DevOps.

May 17, 2022

DevOps Institute, a global professional association for advancing the human elements of DevOps, announced the release of the Upskilling IT 2022 report.

May 17, 2022

Replicated announced a host of new platform features and capabilities that enable their customers to accelerate enterprise adoption of their Kubernetes applications.

May 17, 2022

Codefresh announced that its flagship continuous delivery (CD) platform will be made accessible as a fully-hosted solution for DevOps teams seeking to quickly and easily achieve frictionless, GitOps-based continuous software delivery in the cloud.

May 16, 2022

Red Hat announced new capabilities and enhancements across its portfolio of open hybrid cloud solutions aimed at accelerating enterprise adoption of edge compute architectures through the Red Hat Edge initiative.

May 16, 2022

D2iQ announced a partnership with GitLab.

May 16, 2022

Kasten by Veeam announced the new Kasten by Veeam K10 V5.0 Kubernetes data management platform.

May 12, 2022

Red Hat introduced Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9, the Linux operating system designed to drive more consistent innovation across the open hybrid cloud, from bare metal servers to cloud providers and the farthest edge of enterprise networks.

May 12, 2022

Couchbase announced version 7.1 of Couchbase Server.

May 12, 2022

Copado added Copado Robotic Testing to Copado Essentials.