Where contractor software development is heading in 2024

Twenty-six years into this technology recruitment game and one thing is crystal clear -- software development never sits still.

As a sector, software development is constantly evolving and adapting to changes in IT and the wider world.

These realties will make software development a vibrant and exciting place to be for contractors in 2024, especially for those contractors who are willing to adapt, writes Matt Collingwood of VIQU IT Recruitment, a software developer recruitment agency.

The AI revolution

‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) is no longer just an exciting new buzzword with little actual impact or importance.

Instead, AI is an indispensable component in society, and consequently, software development. In 2024, I expect we will witness a shift in the software development landscape, as AI-driven tools/platforms take on a larger role in how freelance software developers work.

AI-driven tools/platforms will assist developers in new exciting ways; covering everything from the automation of repetitive tasks to the simplification of processes, to even generating and writing code. Assisting in the streamlining of development workflows, these tools will give software developers more time to concentrate on the more complex and creative aspects of their projects.

AI-powered testing and code review-tools will identify vulnerabilities and strengthen code quality, with the hope of more efficient and faster development cycles.

With AI becoming an integral part of software development, our expectation is that ethical concerns will intensify. Already, we’ve certainly witnessed this goes wrong in recruitment. With this in mind, the future looks bright in the demand stakes for niche professionals like data ethicists, who ensure fair opportunity and inclusivity of data.

Sustainable software development

In a world increasingly aware of environmental concerns, sustainable practices have permeated nearly every industry. As a software development recruitment agency, we have certainly witnessed new and existing clients taking a strong stance on sustainability within their businesses and acting stringently regarding the businesses they partner and align themselves with.

In 2024, we will certainly see sustainability impacting software developer recruitment within businesses, as they look to establish sustainability throughout their core business functions, including the minimisation of the carbon footprint of software applications and the reduction of resource-consumption.

This will create opportunities for people from a large variety of backgrounds -- sustainability champions, procurement professionals, among others. But it will filter down too to software developers, who will be expected to ensure (if not demonstrate) they are working in an environmentally-friendly way. Contractors who want to get on with software development in 2024 will need to be aware and accepting of this, in order to ensure contracts are renewed and the premiums on offer directed to them upon extension.

Low-code and no-code software development

The trend of low-code and no-code development platforms will continue in 2024. These platforms will play a part in redefining the way we create and deploy software applications.

Their ability to support individuals with limited coding experience by removing some of the complexities associated with traditional software development probably isn’t the news established contractors will want to hear!

Historically, software development has been a specialised field accessible only to those with advanced coding skills. However, in essence, these platforms are levelling the playing field, allowing a wider range of professionals to get involved in application-creation. We’ve seen a lot of digital marketing specialists take sideward steps into owning CMSs that traditionally would have been the developer's domain.

There’s always going to be massive demand for development talent and that’s only going to increase as society and enterprise in particular, becomes even further reliant on technology. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we’re going to see the ‘average Joe’ building enterprise-level software any time soon -- but there is a layer underneath for facilitating simple apps, websites and single-function platforms, which might become less reliant on developers.

Less hybrid, less remote, but with strong resistance

Companies in the tech and digital sectors have been at the forefront of remote work adoption. In a survey conducted by GitLab, 91% of tech professionals stated their confidence in being able to work from anywhere, emphasising the adaptability of these industries to offer fully remote roles.

Prior to the Covid pandemic, if you asked me to name which teams within our agency supported remote and hybrid candidates regularly, our software development recruitment team would have been at the top of my list. Software development has always been at the forefront of flexible and remote working in the IT industry.

Software developers acted as a shining beacon at the start of the pandemic, offering many other IT departments insights into how remote and hybrid working practices can work effectively. However, the wind is slowly but surely changing direction!

The general consensus among CEOs is that they want their colleagues to return to the office, with a reported two-thirds saying they want bodies back in the office, full-time.

My response? NO CHANCE. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle; not fully anyway.

How software development adverts are changing

That said, our agency has certainly seen more clients across technology sectors, including employers of software developers, regressing to “must be within 1.5 hour commute and be onsite six times per month” in their adverts.

And we’re seeing them like to warn software development candidates that their organisation is stepping up their “one day in the office per week” policy to two days.

When it comes to software developer recruitment in 2024, I know many businesses will be further pushing the narrative around, and perceived benefits of, return-to-the-office working. However, as I’ve heard the most respected business-types say in conversations I’m having as 2023 wraps up, I would advocate striking a balance between enforcing a company-wide on-site policy, and what the permanent (internal) and contract (skilled) software development workforce want.  

Final thought

All the indicators show that employees and contractors value choice and adaptability, and organisations that provide these options in 2024 are likely to thrive in the evolving technical landscape; and software development is no exception.

Profile picture for user Matt Collingwood

Written by Matt Collingwood

Matt Collingwood is the Managing Director of VIQU Ltd. an IT recruitment and project-based consultancy company with offices in Birmingham and Southampton. Matt is also the co-founder of the Recruitment Canaries, a network of West Midlands based recruitment agencies who encourage collaboration, best practice and upholding the standards and ethics of the recruitment industry.

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