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The most in-demand IT skills for 2021

Global Knowledge
  • Date: 18 February, 2021

Thinking about your next career move? We compiled a round-up of views from industry experts on some of the IT skills that will be most sought-after by employers in 2021 to help in your deliberations.

As the pandemic continues to impact us all, there have been fundamental changes to the way in which many organisations operate. What does this mean for the technologies that are required to support the new ways of working? And in particular, what does it mean for IT professionals as they consider their next career moves?

We’ve reviewed a number of leading online resources, such as Information Week,, Forbes, TechRepublic, and our very own GK Skills and Salary survey, in order to gather the views of various industry observers on what IT skills will be in demand in 2021 and beyond. In no particular order, here are some of the skills that appeared most frequently in the experts’ predictions, hopefully giving you some pointers on where you should be looking to develop your own technical skills: 

  • Cybersecurity: With more operations shifting to the cloud and the resultant security concerns growing and changing, organisations have made cybersecurity a top business priority. Almost every digital business faces cybersecurity threats, however a market shortage has created a demand for those with cybersecurity, network security and vulnerability assessment skills. Luckily, There’s a wide range of security certifications available 
  • Cloud computing: As more and more companies move away from traditional server infrastructure to cloud solutions, the demand for IT professionals skilled in this area has risen steeply. Examples include cloud computing engineers who can design, plan, manage, maintain and support cloud computing. Vendor-specific certifications are key in this area, with AWS and Microsoft proving particularly popular
  • DevOps: Many enterprises have transitioned to DevOps models of operation that emphasise agility and collaboration between development and operations teams. The result is greater demand for professionals with DevOps experience to oversee coding, scripting and processes development. In addition, an increasing number are expanding DevOps to their security teams through the practice known as DevSecOps, meaning this is another fast-growing area of demand
  • AI/machine learning: The World Economic Forum says artificial intelligence (AI) will create 133 million new jobs by 2025. And because AI can perform tasks such as image and speech recognition and facial recognition faster and more accurately than humans, AI skills are becoming highly sought-after. Machine learning (ML) is an application of AI that mines data to deliver insights and execute rule-based tasks efficiently. Specialist skills required by ML applications include neural networks, natural language processing (NLP), robotics and deep learning
  • Data analytics: Closely related to the growth in AI is the expanding role of analytics and data science, with ML projects typically requiring data scientists to build the models and engineers to manage the production work. With more and more businesses relying on data to drive decision-making, data-driven skills are highly valued and that’s why demand for data analysts, BI analysts, data architects and similar roles continues to rise
  • Blockchain: Despite blockchain often being associated with cryptocurrencies, it is also increasingly used as a technology solution for file storage, peer-to-peer payments, crowdfunding and identity management and banking. With more and more industries adopting blockchain technologies, it’s no surprise that LinkedIn recently ranked ‘blockchain developer’ as top of the most in-demand skills for the coming year
  • Software/mobile development: The demand for developers is growing fast due in part to the increasing demand for software and apps as we become more digitally connected globally. Full stack developer ranked second in Indeed’s best jobs of 2020 study and ranked top in terms of growth. In addition, the demand for mobile application development skills continues to grow with developers typically required to have experience in programming, UX design, troubleshooting and debugging programs, and development
  • Project management: A report from the Project Management Institute predicted that by 2027, organisations will need 88 million professionals for project management roles. The pandemic has resulted in companies needing more IT to support their remote workers and digital transformation initiatives, meaning that project management skills are increasingly needed to ensure teams focus on applying resources in the most effective way and provide value for their employers. PRINCE2, Agile and Project Management Professional (PMP) are particularly popular certifications in this field
  • Soft skills: Of course, not all the skills that technical workers require are technical in nature. The increase in remote work during the pandemic has made soft skills even more important for IT professionals than they were before. Examples of soft skills that employers seek in their technology workers include attention to detail, business acumen, change management, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, customer service, leadership and problem solving. Being able to stay calm and function under adverse conditions is also a valuable trait that IT professionals should develop

According to the World Economic Forum, education is the number one way to prepare for the next two decades of work. Developing new skill sets can expand your knowledge and capabilities, and help to either set you apart from other technology professionals in a highly competitive job market, or deliver greater value to your existing employer. Either way, with the changing demands being placed on the technology industry, there’s never been a more opportune time to start planning how to acquire the in-demand skills that will match your career goals.

Are salaries increasing? Are budgets decreasing? Is talent recruitment still the biggest challenge for IT management?

When you survey thousands of worldwide IT professionals, you quickly find that opinions, salaries and priorities can vary significantly from year to year, or by region, tenure or job role.

Here are five date points from Global Knowledge’s 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report that illustrate important trends in professional development, skills gaps, hiring and top-paying certifications:

  1. When formal training is available, 80% of IT decision-makers authorised it - an increase of 36% year over year
  2. IT professionals who gained new skills and/or certifications last year received an average raise of $12,000-$13,000
  3. Each IT professional could lose up to 520 productivity hours this year to skills gaps
  4. 69% of IT decision-makers have more than one open position on their team they haven’t been able to fill
  5. CISSP is the top-paying IT certification in the world with an average salary of $119,170

Want to know the other top-paying certifications around the world? Well, you’ll just have to download the report.

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