The Current State of Open Source Jobs

Despite the current economic climate, open source jobs are out there.

The Current State of Open Source Jobs
Image by Austin Distel / Unsplash

According to the 10th Annual Open Source Jobs Report from The Linux Foundation and edX's trusted learning platform, the open source job market is even more promising for the job seekers.

The report found that 73% of open source professionals feel confident they could easily find a new job, while 93% of employers struggle to find skilled talent. Most open source professionals, 63%, reported they hadn't changed jobs in the past year, but one-in-three did leave their jobs.

The report also indicates that the market for open source professionals is even more promising due to the increased demand for their specialized skills and expertise, such as Kubernetes and Linux. However, the report does not cover the "open source skills shortage and how companies are developing open source talent." This is an important topic that deserves further exploration in the year 2023.

As demand for open source talent grows, organizations seek to develop and retain their talent. Hear from industry leaders on overcoming the skills shortage in the open source job market.

Changing Demand for Open Source Jobs

Joshua Pearce, from Western University, tells on the current state of open source talent for software: "It is almost ubiquitous now. Even traditionally non-software firms are looking for engineers to have a solid demonstration of open source development. To be frank, if you don't have a GitHub/GitLab or similar showcase of your talent in the open source arena, your resume is at risk of being overlooked."

The open source revolution is expanding from software to hardware, particularly in electronics. Pearce mentioned that the most talented students are mastering the interface between hardware and software using open source tools from Arduino microcontrollers for prototyping electronics to OpenCV for computer vision and TensorFlow for machine learning.

Staying Ahead of the Curve — By mastering OSS technologies, anyone can stay ahead of the curve and create innovative solutions that are both cost-effective and technically advanced. "Industry and academia have been moving rapidly to open hardware⁴ due both the technical superiority but also cost savings” Pearce pointed out. “As an example, open hardware scientific tools offer far more customization and cost only about 10% of equivalent proprietary devices." 

Therefore, the demand for open source jobs is expected to continue to grow in 2024, giving open source professionals a distinct advantage in the job market as they can easily find new employment opportunities due to the increasing use of OSS technologies in hardware and software.

Overcoming the Skills Shortage

The reason we are dealing with a skills shortage is that there has been an explosion of new technologies in the cloud-native space that have re-imagined much of the software development process from beginning to end. "These new technologies involve new people processes, along with new security, operational, and compliance requirements," says Tim Hinrichs, CTO of Styra.

"Developing software today isn't like it was 10 years ago, and individuals in the industry need to relearn some pretty fundamental skills," Hinrichs explained. "There are ways to help overcome the skills shortage. Because the tech is so new, IT leaders should try to talk directly to the creators to understand if, how, when, and why to embrace it. From there, it’s important to plan out the sequence of technical and process changes you want to carry out. Think of migrating to cloud-native software development as a journey. A common failure pattern is to expect results overnight and/or take on too much too quickly."

The benefits of cloud-native software development are significant, but it does require commitment and involves substantial change. With the right approach, organizations can overcome the skills shortage and reap the rewards of open source and cloud-native software development.

Open Source Talent Development

When we asked about developing and retaining open-source talent, Chandni Chopra, Director of Human Resources at LambdaTest, shared her insights on the strategies and initiatives they have taken to attract and retain top talent.

Our approach to developing and retaining open-source talent is to ensure we give them challenging problems to tackle and solve. From our perspective, any software development lifecycle broadly has two sides- development and testing. While the dev stack has seen/is seeing a lot of innovation, the testing side of the equation has clearly lacked innovation, we give our talent the chance to change this situation.

Just to quote an example, one of our more recent product launches is HyperExecute, a next-gen smart test orchestration platform that helps testers and developers run end-to-end automation tests up to 70% faster than traditional cloud-based automation grids, enabling businesses to achieve quicker time-to-market with less dev interrupts/friction and faster feedback on bugs.

A problem statement like this is what makes talent join us.

We have ideas constantly brewing in our research labs. To tackle the quality and quantity of talent, we organize hackathons to keep growing our pool of high-caliber resources. Our recent one was around the concept of Hacktober fest.

Encouraging Open Source Contributors — We give away licenses of our entire platform for free for open-source projects. We recently launched a $250,000 grant for open-source developers who are working on testing frameworks and tools. Through this grant, LambdaTest is looking to support deep-rooted innovation that will push the envelope for the entire QA and Testing community.

With Quality Leadership at the Forefront — We are proud have onboarded Manoj Kumar, our Vice President of Developer Relations. Manoj is one of the most well-known contributors to Selenium, a leading open-source testing framework. Given his deep connection to the open-source community, he is our sounding board on how we can continuously give back, support, and innovate with the open-source community that has given us so much.

Chopra concluded by emphasizing the importance of giving talented folks the space to experiment, be vocal and be change-makers through initiatives, and taking this responsibility seriously.

Retain Key Developers

"Code speaks volumes in open source," says Torin Sandall, VP of Open Source at Styra, highlighting the difficulty of retaining open source developers as a major challenge for organizations.

Organizations need to be able to identify and hire key developers from relevant projects and make sure that internal incentives and policies are aligned to encourage contribution back to those projects. For example, if achievements in upstream projects are not recognized internally, or the processes required to contribute back to upstream projects are too draconian, open source developers will not stay in the organization.

Fostering Engagement in Open Source Projects —  Beyond code, organizations can also encourage developers to participate in open source projects in other ways, e.g., by contributing to end-user documentation, publishing blog posts about how the organization leverages the technologies, presenting case studies at conferences, organizing local meetups around the technologies, and so on.

Through his experience in the cloud-native space, Sandall affirmed that "All of these activities raise the profile of the organization within the open source community and help attract talent." He has been a passionate advocate for open source and instrumental in driving Strya's commitment to the open source community.

Hiring Decisions according to the research

Open Source Jobs Report by The Linux Foundation and edX

Employers highly value certifications — with 90% of those surveyed indicating they are willing to pay for their employees to get tech certifications. while 81% of open source professionals plan to acquire new certifications this year.

Hiring managers are actively seeking candidates with cloud and container technology (69%) and Linux (61%) skills, making these two areas of expertise highly sought after.

Forty percent of employers have stated that cybersecurity skills have a major influence on their hiring decisions. This could be due to a shortage of professionals with these skills, as 77% of open source professionals have indicated that they would benefit from additional security training.

Final Thoughts

With the demand for skilled professionals on the rise, job seekers must stay abreast of the latest OSS technologies in order to remain competitive.

It is clear that skills and learning capacity are essential for success in a competitive job market. Open source training and certification programs can help professionals stay up to date with the latest advancements, giving them an edge over those who rely solely on experience.