Looking Back at 2021, Looking Ahead to 2022
It's been quite a year, with ongoing flirtations with a "return to normal" on the one hand, and continuing surges of COVID infections on the other. As I look back on the year that's almost behind us, I realize it was one of profound and interesting change in the way IT pros work, learn, and live.
There's no doubt that remote work and remote learning have become the norm, and that even a genuine "return to normal" is not the same thing as a "return to the old ways of working, especially in the office." Certainly, when it comes to training and certification, online (and remote classroom) learning is indeed a new normal that looks likely to rule the world into the foreseeable future.
I met up with an old writing and training buddy earlier this year. He's come to Austin twice this year to teach instructor-led training classes. Even he says his work is moving into the virtual realm — whereas his old mix was 100 percent live and in-person, his new mix is somewhere between 50-50 and 60-40 (with remote learning representing the larger of that last pair of numbers).
Training companies, including boutiques and big-name outfits, are retooling to better provide virtual classrooms and training. These firms report a similar ratio of providing live versus remote learning and training delivery as what I just shared from my old friend's point of view.
Looking back at hot topics for 2021 beyond those related to remote learning, training, and certification exams, I see an ongoing and growing emphasis on cloud, virtualization, and security. If you run this GoCertify search, which doesn't arrange results by date but fortunately tends to pick newer articles before older ones — but not always, as quick click-through will demonstrate — then you can tour through my GoCertify output from 2021. (You can also give Google a spin.)
I see a pretty typical mix of topics about community colleges, the monthly analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation Summary, and cert program coverage (e.g. Google, Microsoft, VMware, CompTIA, Linux, and more).
Thinking About 2022
I see plenty of ferment and lots of activity for those in IT. As the job market continues to tighten up, IT industry watchers anticipate increasing mobility and opportunities for those thinking about new jobs, both for first-timers and for practicing IT pros at all levels of experience.
The latest CompTIA Tech Jobs Report (from Dec. 3) shows tech sector employment on a long, steady, gradual upward climb (accounting for 4.82 M jobs as of the latest reckoning), while tech occupation employment (those who work in IT in non-IT oriented firms) at 5.7M jobs, is closer to its January 2020 peak (6.0M) than its Aug 2020 valley (5.2M).
CompTIA also reports IT employment up for November (the month that the December report covers, natch) as the 12th consecutive month of increased job counts. Tech jobs were up by a sliver — 9,400 jobs — but CompTIA also observes that "Tech employment at the occupation level (across all sectors, that is) grew by 193,000 in November."
That's not half bad. CompTIA executive vice-president Tim Herbert (research and market intelligence) opined that, "Despite the frenzied pace, it's a great a time for both technology professionals and employers to explore new opportunities, reinvest in skills and career development, and prepare to embrace the latest innovations."
I couldn't have said it better myself, so I just let his words stand without further comment from yours truly. The CompTIA report also calls out "the most in-demand emerging technologies" as being "data science, DevOps and artificial intelligence." That sounds about right to me, too.
Planning for 2022
I've written on this topic for GoCertify many times before. Thus, I'll provide you some links to that older-yet-still-valid information, and remind you that it's always a good idea to plan ahead. That goes double when what you're planning for takes time, costs money, and requires at least modest effort (usually more than that).
Check out my Forging a Certification Plan article from 2019 for more instructions on what to do, and how to do it. I'd also advise a trip to my thoroughgoing overview of The Big List of Soft Skills and How to Use It if you're interested in developing interpersonal and communications skills outside the realm of the strictly technical. The further you go in your career, and the higher you climb in any hierarchy, the more these things matter in ensuring personal and professional success.
And, while you're on break, don't forget to relax and enjoy a momentary hiatus in the never-ending incredibly hectic whirl that working in IT so often involves. And as you plan for 2022, don't forget to bring your family and friends into that effort. If you let them know what you're thinking, they'll be the better for it. Who knows? They may actually give you some insightful and helpful feedback in response.
My very best wishes to you, dear readers, for a safe, prosperous, and enjoyable holiday season. See you in these pages in 2022. My first item will appear on or around Jan. 7. I hope we all get the opportunity to enjoy some downtime between now and then.