IDC: Job growth for pro developers to slow

After major gains since 2011, there are now nearly 20 million software developers worldwide -- a third of whom are hobbyists

There will be 18.5 million software developers worldwide at the start of 2014, with 11 million professional developers and 7.5 million hobbyists, according to a report released Tuesday by IDC. But low population and workforce growth, plus competition from other developing industries, will limit the number of new professional developers entering the workforce. IDC projects low-single-digit percentage growth rates in most countries for the foreseeable future.

Of today's developers, 19 percent are in the United States, followed by 10 percent in China and 9.8 percent in India. India has more professional developers and China more hobbyist developers, said IDC, which factored in estimates of 90 countries into its report. IDC had estimated there were 10.5 million professional software developers in 2011. Hobbyist developers, meanwhile, are a faster-changing population that tends to be on the vanguard of technology trends. Hobbyists are "basically folks developing outside of their main job or job description," IDC analyst Al Hilwa said.

IDC also estimates that there are 29 million information and communications technology (ICT) workers in the world, including the 11 million professional software developers along with 18 million operations and management skilled workers.

IDC offered several other observations:

  • "While the numbers of both developers and ICT-skilled workers are expected to grow over the next few years, shifts in how IT is being delivered through cloud services will favor growth in the number of developers over other ICT-skilled workers," IDC said. The United States accounts for 22 percent of worldwide ICT-skilled workers, followed by India with 10.4 percent and China with 7.6 percent. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 36 percent of all ICT workers, followed by the Americas with 33 percent and Europe, and the Middle East and Africa with 31 percent.
  • The change from code-centric to configuration-centric application development enables some knowledge workers to accomplish tasks that once needed professional developers.
  • New modes and models for application development will continue, representing an engine of growth for professional and hobbyist developers. Some new development models, such as business process management platforms, have contributed to professional developer populations in recent years.

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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