Top IT contractor skills for 2024-25

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As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, freelance IT professionals who can keep up will play a vital role in supporting organisations, writes Pendy Hou, delivery team leader at the London office of technology recruitment agency First Point Group.

IT contractor jobs market right now in the UK be like…

Despite the publicity around tech companies reducing headcount and while challenges are of course present, the outlook for contract IT professionals is optimistic – albeit it’s a cautious optimism.

First and foremost, and for the avoidance of doubt, we have not seen technology jobs or contracts being terminated -- we’d be surprised if we did see this.

We have witnessed a number of contractors who have not had their contracts extended, however.

As a shrewd IT freelancer, you adapt, negotiate, and stay fully informed

 Yet, as confidence returns and projects begin to start/resurrect (bearing in mind that the UK exited a technical recession as recently as January-March 2024), contractors in IT who adapt, negotiate wisely, and stay informed will thrive in this dynamic environment. 

Whether you're an experienced tech contractor or considering a career in telecoms or tech contracting, there are four ‘hard’ skills and four ‘soft’ skills in high demand in the freelance space, and often related to those eight, four technology roles in high demand too.

In other words, and now the new financial year is well underway (it started on April 6th 2024), here are the top IT contractor skills for 2024-25. 

Hard/core skills in high demand from tech freelancers in 2024-25

  1. Cloud Computing & Platforms

  2. Cyber Security

  3. Data Analytics

  4. Microsoft Server Operating Systems

Soft skills /competencies in high demand from tech freelancers in 2024-25

  • Ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously

  • Good-to-excellent communication

  • Exemplary time-management

  • Strong at problem-solving and lateral thinking

Now, for that promised close-up on those four specific technologists, all of whom are very much sought-after and will invariably need a mix of the above 8 in their locker:

1. Infrastructure Engineers

Infrastructure engineers with experience in cloud-based platforms are ‘hot’ right now.

As companies increasingly migrate to the cloud, professionals who can design, implement, and manage cloud infrastructure are very well-positioned. Essential skills for freelance infrastructure engineers, include:

  • Ability to Work on Multiple Projects: IT contractors often juggle multiple projects at the same time. Being able to prioritise tasks, manage deadlines, and work efficiently across different projects is being enquired about more and more.

  • Microsoft Server Operating Systems: Proficiency in Microsoft Server Operating Systems (such as Windows Server) is crucial. Infrastructure engineers need to set up, configure, and maintain servers to ensure smooth operations.

  • Cloud Platforms (VMWare, Veeam, AWS, Azure): Familiarity with popular cloud platforms like VMWare, Veeam, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft Azure is essential. These platforms power modern infrastructure and require skilled professionals to manage them effectively.

  • Problem-Solving Mindset: Infrastructure engineers encounter various challenges, from troubleshooting server issues to optimising performance. A problem-solving mindset is critical for diagnosing and resolving issues efficiently.

2. OpenRAN Engineers

Understanding of OpenRAN Architecture: OpenRAN engineers need to grasp the principles behind open interfaces, virtualisation, and disaggregation.

They work on designing and implementing RAN solutions that promote flexibility and innovation. OpenRAN engineers collaborate closely with network operators to ensure seamless integration and performance. Strong communication skills and the ability to work with diverse teams are essential.

3. Optical Fibre Engineers

The UK's nationwide rollout of faster broadband relies heavily on optical fibre infrastructure. Optical fibre engineers contribute to building and maintaining high-speed broadband networks. Here's the key skills of an optical fibre engineers:

  • Expertise in Optical Fibre Installation: Optical Fibre engineers install, splice, and test fibre optic cables. They ensure reliable connectivity for homes, businesses, and public services.

  • Knowledge of FTTP (Fibre to the Premises): Full FTTP connections provide ultra-fast broadband directly to homes and businesses. Engineers involved in FTTP projects need to thoroughly understand the technology and deployment process.

4. Field Engineers / Riggers

Field engineers and riggers play a vital role in site upgrades, equipment installation, and maintenance. The skills of a field engineer/ rigger include:

  • Site Deployment and Upgrades: Field engineers and riggers work on-site, installing and upgrading network equipment. They ensure that installations meet safety standards and operational requirements.

  • Troubleshooting and Repairs: When issues arise, field engineers troubleshoot and repair equipment promptly. Their ability to rapidly diagnose problems efficiently keeps networks operational. 

IT contractor market outlook at half-year 2024, in a nutshell…

As the IT landscape evolves, contractors who stay up-to-date with these skills will remain competitive in an industry which isn’t without its challenges. Whether you specialise in infrastructure, OpenRAN, optical fibre, or field engineering, continuous learning and adaptability are the keys to success -- in these technical spheres and other fields.

Written by

Pendy Hou

First Point Group

Pendy has over 10 years of specialist recruitment experience covering the UK and European market, covering contract and permanent recruitment. Pendy prides himself in his accuracy in delivering the best candidates against his client’s requirements which has enabled 8 out of his last 10 placements to be the first CV submitted, minimising the manager’s time to hire. His areas of expertise includes Engineers to Heads of Departments to Sales Directors within 5G, OpenRAN, Cloud, Optical Networks, AI, Network Engineering to name a few.

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