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7 Ways To Stay Ahead Of The Pack In A Shifting Marketplace

In the 21st century, technology dominates almost every industry and workplace. It’s impossible to exclude ourselves from this onslaught of modern science and digitalization, especially after the pandemic has made the adoption of technology mandatory for different business marketplace. Today, 40% of the human population has access to the internet.

Keeping this in mind, can you guess what skills employers currently expect new recruits and future employees to possess? They all require employees to possess “digital skills” or capabilities that enable them to successfully navigate a tech-dependent workplace and business environment. And what are these digital skills?

Skills you need to learn for 2021 and beyond

What digital skills do you, as a job-seeker, need to beat the competition and boost your eligibility for employment in the future? Digital acumen today has become necessary to remain relevant in this COVID-affected world. A recent survey conducted in the United Kingdom shows that 88% of youth acknowledge that digital skills are essential for their careers. Also, more than 60% of them have the essential technical know-how employers are looking for right now! A PwC survey published in 2018 reveals that the following factors are creating increased interest in learning new digital skills:

  • New skills can help improve efficiency and boost teamwork
  • Increased knowledge and expertise can provide an opportunity for a promotion
  • New skills help people achieve success in an unpredictable environment

That said, what resources are available for employees to hone their digital abilities? The answer lies in online learning. Distance learning has made it easier to improve your technical proficiency and quickly develop existing and new skills. Study materials are available online, so even full-time employees can benefit from these opportunities as it enables them to create a more flexible learning schedule. There are various online courses for professionals that can help you gain the digital skills employers seek to overcome competition in today’s shifting marketplace. Listed below are some examples of essential digital skills current employers expect well-qualified candidates to possess.

1. Programming

Knowing how to code simple programs in different languages (e.g., C++ and Python) would be beneficial if you wish to broaden your potential employment opportunities. In 2016, the Fast Company reported that almost 49% of jobs paying over $58,000 required basic coding skills. Learning how to code can change your perspective on many things and can help you become more object-oriented. You can also learn SQL or Java to improve your critical thinking and problem-solving skills – two highly sought-after skills in the future workplace.

2. Cybersecurity

As more companies embrace digitalization and begin to store information online, maintaining the safety of crucial data has become a significant challenge. The FBI reports a 300% increase in cybercrimes since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Organizations are investing heavily in strengthening their digital defenses by recruiting well-qualified cybersecurity experts. Thus, you can upskill yourself by joining programs that teach you to decrease the risk of cyber-attacks and ensure data safety. You can start by learning the basics of encryption and work your way up into more senior roles responsible for cybersecurity strategy development and deployment.

3. FinTech

FinTech merely means “financial technology.” You might’ve used some applications related to FinTech before, e.g., depositing money in your account through a smartphone or applying for a credit card online. In 2020, experts predicted that the global FinTech market would grow at a rate of 25% every year in this decade. Hence, consider upskilling in FinTech if you are interested in blockchain development, financial product/app development, as well as financial data analysis and security. Courses in FinTech typically cover the basics, including alternative finance, trends and drivers, and how to analyze them. They also cover how companies are using digital technologies to transform the world of finance.

4. SEO

Companies have always relied on marketing campaigns to attract new audiences and retain current customers. Digital marketing is replacing traditional marketing in the 21st century. One helpful skill under the umbrella of digital marketing that you should learn more about is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because many companies now rely on digital methods to attract new customers and retain existing ones. SEO will become more relevant for all organizations, even those that weren’t interested in digitization before; it is no longer a luxury but a need in today’s digitally dominant environment.

Several online educational platforms offer short courses to help you understand different techniques to increase the amount of traffic landing on a website and convert it into revenue. This skill includes, among other things, optimizing your website and other online platforms, producing relevant content for online promotion, and gaining quality backlinks. You can also learn about more technical aspects related to SEO, including URL and image optimization, link architecture, and optimizing page load times.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

5. Data analytics

Humans have created more data in this century alone than in the entire history of humanity combined. As per 2020 statistics, a person produces 1.7 megabytes of information every second. Today, companies collect consumers’ data in website cookies, sales numbers, demographics, psychographics, etc. With this mass amount of data being collected daily, companies need to hire people to assess and extract useful information to help them make data-driven decisions. You can pursue courses that explain data analytics and various techniques utilized to extrapolate information for commercial benefits. Big Data is one of the crucial drivers of Business Intelligence and innovative decision-making. Employers are looking for skilled candidates who can collect, organize, and analyze raw datasets to generate results.

6. Animation

While image/video is an additional digital skill that many employers appreciate, learning how to animate can do even more to increase your market worth. We’ve seen several wonders of animation ranging from YouTube educational videos to the plethora of Japanese shows (anime). If you’re proficient in Photoshop and animation skills, you have many chances to work within an organization’s marketing department. From Maya to Blender, several animation software solutions are available at your disposal right now. You can also take online classes to improve your animation skills and become a valuable organization member.

7. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is present in all sectors today, and automation will keep dominating industries and workplaces in the future. Last year, Forbes reported that automation would replace 85 million jobs, but experts suggest that our tech-driven future will create around 97 million jobs. Therefore, you should focus on harnessing your basic understanding and proficiency in areas such as AI, machine learning, and automation. As more industries incorporate AI to speed up procedures and eliminate human errors, several automation-related skills will become increasingly important. They include signal processing methods and neural network architecture.


In the 21st century, two different perspectives regarding the accelerated adoption of technology have amassed attention. While it is held responsible for displacing millions of jobholders, its adoption has also become necessary for employees to stay ahead of the pack.

Knowing how to program and work with AI can make you a more suitable candidate for leading transformational change in an organization through digitalization. Being knowledgeable in SEO and FinTech will also give you a competitive advantage in this rapidly-changing market. With increased instances of hacking, cybersecurity professionals will be the frontline of every modern enterprise’s defenses. Also, the enhanced dependence upon data will require you to learn how to make good use of raw, unorganized data sets and convert them into actionable insights. And who doesn’t love a skilled employee who can quickly create and edit images, videos, and animation on demand?

These digital abilities are the most common skills that employers seek in future employees. It’s no surprise 82% of middle-skill jobs require well-learned digital skills, even if the candidate’s primary responsibilities include nothing tech-related!

Featured Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay