5 top employee skills organizations will look for in 2021

Viren Kapadia December 1, 2020
5 top employee skills organizations will look for in 2021

In recent times, we have witnessed several job roles being pushed to a point of near obsolescence, new job roles emerging, and the nature of existing roles undergoing a drastic transformation. More importantly, such changes are not just happening at a never seen before pace, the rate at which they occur is accelerating too. As a result, organizations today need personnel with new-age skills as the operating dynamics for businesses across all industry sectors undergo a paradigm shift. Here, we look at five such employee skills that organizations will be keen to acquire as we head into 2021:

1. Analytics

‘Data is the oil of the 21st century’ is a quote that has long ceased to be a part of boardroom presentations – it is a reality that has now become commonplace. Data Science is one of the hottest skills in current times. Companies are seeking out the help of data analysts and data scientists to:

  • Manage and analyze the large volumes of their existing organizational data
  • Use various techniques and tools to unravel hidden insights about customer behavior and preferences, sales patterns, pricing trends, and other such factors that have a bearing on business performance
  • Identify sources of inefficiency in existing processes to weed out bottlenecks and optimize operational performance
  • Establish leaner supply chains
  • Provide market inputs for new product development
  • Unravel patterns in the psychometrics of employees to devise personalized performance improvement measures

It is easy to see that the above aspects have a direct bearing on business performance. This is the reason why as per a report of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, in the UK, 69% of employers will demand data science and analytics skills by 2021. Being a good analyst requires one to have a sound grasp of mathematical and statistical analysis concepts, and familiarity with the use of analytical tools such as Tableau, RapidMiner, Pentaho, and programming in R and Python. Skills in analytics are important for several job roles such as:

  • Data Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Business Analyst
  • Operations Research Specialist
  • Supply Chain Analyst
  • Financial Analyst
  • Marketing Analyst

2. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

We are living in an era of automation, as businesses are embracing Industry 4.0. There are several benefits of automation such as:

  • Relegating repetitive, monotonous tasks to a machine which would perform them without getting bored
  • Heightened accuracy of output as the scope for human errors is eliminated
  • Tirelessness with which work is performed like a machine would never get fatigued
  • Reduction in costs as automation eliminates the need for human labor to be employed

It is easy to see why AI/ML engineers are in such high demand in the industry even today. The scope for the application of AI/ML is limitless. Some of its applications are:

  • Inventory management at Amazon’s warehouses where AI-powered robots move around packages from the warehouse shelves as and when orders have to be despatched
  • Automation of hazardous tasks on the shop-floor of large manufacturing units
  • Domestic appliances such as smart vacuum cleaner, home automation systems
  • Power grid management
  • Algorithmic trading
  • Intelligent Product Recommendations on websites
  • ML-powered self-learning chatbots on websites to serve as the first line for customer interaction

As we can see, the sheer number of possibilities for AI/ML applications means that the skill is in huge demand across all industries. AI/ML engineers need to have an eye for identifying the scope for automation and being able to generate algorithms that can execute the automation logic while integrating seamlessly into different systems, be it on websites or microcontrollers. Some job roles that may require AI/ML skills include:

  • AI Engineer
  • ML Engineer
  • Business Intelligence Developer
  • Software Product Manager
  • Robotics Engineer
  • UI/UX Designer

3. Software Engineering

It was only a decade back that software mostly referred to a ‘.exe’ file that one had to download and install on the hard drive of a desktop PC or laptop. Around the turn of the decade, smartphone applications were becoming the rage, but over the last 5 years, the world of software has changed drastically. Today, we have complex software that rests on programmable chips as well as over the cloud. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is an entirely new category of products where the providers offer subscription-based controlled access to utility software over the cloud platform. Moreover, businesses are eagerly incorporating increasingly complex software systems and integrating their processes on to such enterprise technology. Thus, today, software engineering is a highly critical skill that companies are seeking across all sectors. The skill is vital for job roles such as:

  • - Full-Stack Developer
  • - Software Developer
  • - Software Tester
  • - Technology Analyst
  • - Solutions Architect
  • - Embedded Software Developer

4. Digital Marketing

Today, marketing encompasses both, online as well as offline elements. Also, the importance of traditional marketing such as TV, Radio, Print Ads, OOH, etc. will not fade away. But digital marketing has brought in endless possibilities, as brands get to take themselves to avenues where they can engage in a very intimate and personalized way with their target customers. Therefore, digital marketing as a skill is of paramount importance. Not only would digital marketers need to have a great sense of marketing content generation, but they would also need to be conversant with various MarTech tools. Moreover, over digital platforms, it is far easier to collect information regarding user preferences and browsing patterns which can be critical for building future business strategies. Therefore, digital marketers are highly sought after in industries such as FMCG, Consumer Durables, E-commerce, and Banking among others.

5. Industrial Psychology

The importance of leveraging psychology concepts in management is slowly dawning upon companies, and some of the early adopters have already begun acting upon it. Businesses have begun to realize the value of having a happy and dispute-free workplace, motivated employees, and fostering a sense of loyalty to the company among the workforce. Industrial psychologists can play a massive role in achieving such objectives by assessing the mindset of workers in different roles on an individual level, keeping a track of individual mindsets, expectations, aspirations, motivations, and disappointments, and accordingly counselling them to maximize their potential work performance. Therefore, in the coming future, we could see a lot many companies recruiting industrial psychologists within their HR Departments.

The year 2021 would be one where the world would hope to emerge out of the COVID-19 crisis. 2020 has been defined as the year of an increased rate of digitization and a greater awareness of mental health in enabling occupational performance. It is therefore easy to see why the aforementioned skills would be the most sought after as move on to a new calendar.