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A Need For Digital Skills In 2021

We find that the world has changed in recent times and the UK has had to adapt accordingly. Digital skills were always necessary as the innovations and the services businesses provided changing.

As we sit in 2021; there is an even bigger demand for digital skills. Much of the UK workforce has been forced to work remotely (from home) during the past year; which has either helped or hindered business operations. Those with effective digital skills are able to work as usual, while it may take those who are not as proficient online, some time to get used to the new way of working.

Skill Shortage/Gap

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were reports of a significant skills gap amongst the UK workforce. The majority of organisations in the UK (91%) struggled to find the find workers with the right skillsets in 2020.

According to The Open University Barometer, it found that three in five senior business leaders that were surveyed (61%) reported that the skills shortage had worsened over the past year.

It also revealed that the skills shortage gap is costing businesses £6.3 billion in total.

As a result, this has had a major effect on the recruitment process, delaying the onboarding of new employees by an average of one month and 22 days. This increased the cost of recruitment with 64% of surveyed respondents spending more on recruitment, with costs increasing by 49 per cent or £1.23 billion in total.

Circumstances caused by the Covid-19 have forced organisations and businesses to cut costs; unable to conduct training. This has seen them seek highly skilled professionals to come in and hit the ground running.

As experts have said we could be facing a “digital future”, due to the changing work circumstances, the need to pick up essential digital skills has become greater. Various businesses and organisations have played their part in educating and equipping the UK with the necessary skills needed for 2021.

Microsoft have called for a “digital skills boost” to help businesses invest more digital skills in order to create inclusive workplaces that support employees’ mental wellbeing.

Last year, Microsoft launched their initiative to help 25 million people around the world gain the digital skills that they need during Covid-19. The course consisted of three main areas, including:

  • The use of data to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed to fill them

  • Free access to learning paths and content to help people develop the skills these positions require

  • Low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills pursue new jobs

Although this initiative was introduced to help people be prepared for jobs, the harsh reality is the economy has suffered greatly due to Covid and millions have been made redundant.

Bright Network have recently launched their free tech academy; a digital skills programme for graduates and undergraduates; in a bid to tackle the youth unemployment crisis.

As the need for digital skills increases, it is valuable to know which digital skills are in demand. This keeps workers’ digital skillset up-to-date.


The rise of cybersecurity attacks in the UK in recent times, has made cybersecurity one of the most in-demand digital skills in the UK. Not only businesses’, but consumers were also exposed to cybercriminals following increased online shopping activity. Cybersecurity professionals will be sought after in 2021.

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

AI and machine learning are now slowly making their way into into our daily lives through our smartphones and appliances, among others. Businesses are now beginning to apply AI technologies to improve services. Data Analysts and Data Architects are among the most in-demand AI-related roles.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing services are increasingly being used by UK organisations. -CloudEmployee

Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud platform are amongst the major names currently in cloud computing. Cloud computing’s availability on-demand and the data storage available, it has become a popular solution for businesses’ and will continue to be in 2021.

As highlighted earlier, most of UK jobs now require digital skills, whether working onsite or working remotely. This leaves a large amount of the current workforce and the UK without the necessary knowledge and expertise. By gaining some of these skills, it closes the skills shortage gap and aid the UK economy’s growth.


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