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Many skills that we relied on to survive the pandemic are here to stay long after we define a new “business as usual.” What are the top high-demand skills in 2021?

According to Monster’s Future of Work: 2021 Global Outlook report, eight out of ten employers are planning to hire in 2021. What is the top challenge identified by employers for 2021? Finding candidates with the right skills. Monster found that 87 percent of employers struggle to fill positions as a result of skills gaps. (Particularly in the finance and technology sectors). 

As we move into 2021, many of the skills that companies relied on to survive the pandemic will continue to be essential long after we define a new “business as usual.” Even as we move gradually toward more face-to-face business interactions, remote work is expected to continue. The pace of technology development is expected to remain steady  – and even accelerate in some sectors. And many of the fundamental changes to business operations used to navigate the pandemic are expected to persist.

What, then, are the top four high-demand skills in 2021? 

1. Technology Adoption

Ask any CIO about their needs for technology talent and you’ll hear about skills related to cloud computing, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, and cybersecurity. For years, though, we’ve understood that it’s not just the technologists who need to understand and adopt technology to do their work. 

As our world is increasingly digital, technology adoption is rapidly becoming the essential skill requirement — across industries and job roles. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic simply served to accelerate this digital transformation of everyday work, as companies redefined business models and work transactions to maintain continuity. 

From time tracking and learning management to customer service and marketing, technology now supports the most essential business functions. Technology adoption by digitally savvy employees is the top skill for 2021. 

2. Social and Communication Skills

Just as every employee needs some technology competency, even tech professionals need well-honed social and communication skills. In a CompTIA blog, on the Top IT Skills in Demand for 2021, “soft skills” makes the list. 

In this case, the author calls out the soft skills of empathy, teamwork, communication, and active listening as “just as important to employers as tech skills are.” As companies and industries remain geographically distributed, the ability to connect with others through digital tools is essential for doing genuinely great work. Getting along with others, peer-to-peer learning, and collaboration are essential ingredients for success – for all employees and all businesses.

When you’re conducting your skills assessments and building employee learning plans, be sure to include social and communication skills for 2021. 

3. Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS)

“In 2021, organisations will be inclined towards hiring people with HOTS which focused on cognitive aspect of capabilities, including creative thinking and decision-making ability,” says Sumit Kuman, author of this article on top skills for 2021. Once again, even though has a tech bent, these non-tech thinking skills show up on the list of “sector-agnostic skill sets” for professionals across the company.

It’s not just leaders that need critical thinking and complex problem-solving skills. In our fast-paced digitally connected world, we’re all on the front lines of customer service. Supervisors and customer-facing employees need to be able to resolve complex challenges – quickly and creatively – in ways that serve customers and the company well. The better workforces get at making sound decisions quickly, the more prepared organizations are to thrive in an ever-evolving world. 

4. Continuous Learning Mindset

We’ve accepted that learning new technology skills is an ever-present and ongoing need. As companies think bigger, aim higher, they are building robust continuous learning cultures that are constantly urging and supporting learning cycles for their employees. 

The World Economic Forum, in its The Future of Jobs Report 2020, highlights a need for continuous learning. “On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling” as jobs change in the next five years. An average of 66 percent of employers surveyed expect to see an ROI on upskilling and reskilling within one year. 

In 2021, we all will have a lot to learn as we navigate through and beyond a COVID-19-vaccinated business community. We’ll need to continue to adapt. Companies will increasingly rely on individuals and teams that ably take calculated risks, innovate, and willingly learn new skills – for 2021 and for the foreseeable future. 

If you’re wondering what skills your employees have today – or you’re mapping the skills and competencies they’ll need for your tomorrow – download our Optimize Your Workforce white paper for insights and tips for getting started. Or contact us to find out how Avilar’s WebMentor Skills™ or WebMentor LMS™ can help your workforce build the skills they need for 2021 (and beyond). 


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