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What are the Most In-Demand Skills for Graduates in 2021?

2020 was the year everything changed. What's more, it looks like we won't be going back to the old ways of doing things. In fact, almost every aspect of our lives will be different going forward. That includes the way we shop, do business, and communicate. So to make sure you're in the best place to succeed in whatever the new different looks like, here are eight of the most in-demand job skills for graduates.

Jan 15, 2021
  • Student Tips
What are the Most In-Demand Skills for Graduates in 2021?


According to a LinkedIn survey, blockchain programming will become one of the most in-demand skills as we continue the transition into a new, digital age. Blockchains are revolutionary new databases for storing information in a decentralized manner. Data is tracked and stored on a large number of computers across the network, meaning there’s no central point of attack for hackers or other bad actors.

Bitcoin, the world's first cryptocurrency, runs off a distributed network, but the blockchain has now gone mainstream. Walmart, Nestle, and Unilever are just three of the large corporations that utilize blockchain tech to track and protect global supply chains.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming and design are two more 21st-century skills that will boost your chance of landing a well-paying job in an exciting industry. What was once science fiction fantasy has become the driving force behind the biggest innovations in computing, gaming, defense, customer service, healthcare, and the motor industry.

A report by McKinsey and Company finds AI tech will add as much as $5.8 trillion to the global economy over the coming decades. Today, an AI programmer's average salary is around $75,000, although their potential earning power extends well into the six figures. Plus, workers in this exciting area get the chance to work in some genuinely mind-blowing fields. AI is currently merging with quantum computing. These super-powerful machines have a processing speed of around 100 million times faster than current commercial laptops and PCs.

UX Design

UX, or User Experience, is a design process that considers a person’s emotions and attitudes towards a product. It focuses on utility, ease of use, and efficiency, as well as our deeper (and often unconscious) psychological drives and motivations. For example, a UX designer might build an app or webpage around the Serial Position Effect. Coined by German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus, the serial position describes how the placement of information within a sequence influences our recall accuracy. Ebbinghaus’ studies show how the human brain tends to remember the first and last pieces of information in sequence. From a UX perspective, the serial position effect is a useful marketing tool that can increase sales and customer engagement.

UX design is the perfect career for tech-savvy people with a strong interest in human psychology. Understanding what motivates humans is an essential part of being a great designer. Joe Leech, a product management coach and UX pioneer, writes, "A designer who doesn't understand human psychologies is going to be no more successful than an architect who doesn't understand physics."


Sales professionals can get a bad rap. However, the best in the business are a long way from the caricature of the predatory opportunist that has no qualms about bending the truth to boost their commission. Instead, the art of persuasion is about helping people find what they want or need. It's also about fixing problems, making our lives easier, and enabling growth. In other words, the top salespeople focus on helping existing and prospective customers, not exploiting them.

Talented salespeople are an essential part of every business. After all, what's the point of having a great product or service if people don't hear about or understand the benefits or potential of it? This is why some of the greatest innovators of all time were also world-class salespeople. It was Steve Jobs who persuaded the CEO of telecoms giant AT&T to put a small (and rather quirky) device called an iPhone onto its network. The rest, as they say, is history.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where a business pays a commission to affiliated merchants for bringing in new customers. It's especially popular in the growing podcast world, where a host (the affiliate) might say something like, "click the link below to get a 20% of X product." For many business analysts, affiliate marketing is the future. The numbers certainly back up their case. Millennials are almost 250% more likely to buy or subscribe based on a trusted affiliate’s recommendation. That number is even higher among Gen Z.

Born between 1996-2010, 'Zoomers' are defined as the first generation raised in a world dominated by the internet and social media. These digital natives prefer to buy from brands with established values and a strong sense of online community, created and sustained through new social media platforms. They might be young, but Gen Z still has some serious buying power. A recent article by Business Insider states that Zoomers spend over $140 billion a year.

Business analysis

When asked what she actually does for a living, senior business analyst Jen Neuls often jokes, "You know all those times that people say, 'somebody should look into that?' Well, I'm the person who looks into that!" This could range from cutting customer waiting times in a call center, to finding ways to deliver multi-million dollar projects without going over budget. Other areas of interest for business analysts include implementing new business solutions, prioritizing techniques to create additional value for customers and stakeholders, and reducing churn and rework.

Business analysts are often highly systematic thinkers with close attention to detail. They're also goal orientated and score high on conscientiousness. Business analysis is also one of the few professions where graduates can earn big salaries straight away. The starting salary for a Junior Business Analyst at software giant Salesforce is $102,457.


The world is more connected than ever before. As such, businesses need translators to stay competitive in the global marketplace. It isn't just businesses that need people with second language skills. Translators play a vital role in the defense and intelligence services, where they help protect national security and prevent international conflicts. Translators can also find work in schools, hospitals, housing associations, social security departments, and other public services. One of the most important things they do is advocate for recent immigrants, ensuring these recent arrivals are treated fairly and can make the most of new economic opportunities. Alternatively, some translators work freelance, hiring out their time and language skills to companies or working on short term contacts all over the world. Freelance translating is an excellent choice for people interested in working remotely and exploring new cultures. Plus, many translators get the luxury of being their own boss.

Data science

Recently declared the sexiest job of the 21st century, data scientists are highly skilled professionals who can transform more than just businesses. Skeptical? Then it's worth remembering that data is now the world's most valuable resource. The information on what we do, when we do it, and how we do it is now worth more than oil.

Great power comes with even greater responsibility. Social media giants, notably Facebook, often are often questioned or criticized, as in the recent Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, for the way they handle people's data and the way they run their businesses using this data. However, the good news is that many of these discussions are now happening in the public sphere, meaning people are becoming more aware of how their data is used (and Facebook claims it has already and continues to make it more ethical and responsible in its use of data (pdf)). Data scientists need to play a leading role in making sure our data-driven world is a world that benefits everyone.

Education should be fun and enlightening, but you also need to learn the practical skills employers are looking for. Pick out your dream job, and then find a course that will help you get it.

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Technology Studies

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Technology Studies