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Quest for High-Value Skills in 2021

Erin Iafelice

The 2020 pandemic hastened the arrival of many futuristic jobs as companies stomped on the accelerator of digitalization. And with the rise of remote work, many roles have changed or added components that require additional skills. According to a World Economic Forum report, late last year, companies estimated that about 40% of workers would require reskilling in six months or less. What will be the high-value or in-demand skills in the coming months, and how can you ensure your organization has them in ample supply?

The most in-demand skills

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation skills are already in high demand in 2021 as companies rely more on these technologies to improve operational efficiency and create a modern customer experience. That’s a mandate straight from the top: 70% of C-level executives surveyed say they are looking for current and new employees to have automation and AI skills in both technical and non-technical roles. 

Though software programmer tops the list, three of the ten roles predicted to be in high demand in 2021 are in the skilled trades: construction manager, electrician, and industrial machinery mechanic. Hiring candidates with AI, automation, or trades skills could prove difficult this year.

Many soft skills and interpersonal skills will be more highly valued in the coming months. In the post-pandemic environment, organizations are looking for critical thinkers, can problem-solve and excel in building and maintaining strong team relationships that survive the test of remote working. Being flexible and open to different perspectives and ideas is also becoming more critical as organizations strive to improve diversity and inclusion.

With shifts in in-demand skills and the trend in job enlargement – the widespread phenomenon during quarantines in which employees took on additional responsibilities, recruiting teams have much to think about in short- and long-term workforce skill gaps. Here are several directions your organization can take in your quest for high-value skills: 

Hire for them. Greater demand for specific skills and prevalent job enlargement may mean realigning your hiring, from the tech you use to engage candidates to the assessments you use to inform selection decisions. 

Telehealth is a concrete example. The practice of telehealth has grown significantly and will likely be carried forward after the pandemic has passed. Telehealth roles require additional skills and core competencies for strong job performance. Recruiting teams hiring for telehealth roles are now using pre-employment assessments and strategic hiring workflows that are specific to telehealth to select and hire qualified candidates.

Upskill segments of your current workforce. Many organizations had upskilling plans and activities already in place before the pandemic. Now may be the time to focus specifically on high-value skills. Strategies you can consider include guided personal learning and development, peer coaching and mentoring, and job rotation to build specific skills, knowledge, and competencies. The most effective approach is likely to be a blended program that allows you to be as targeted as possible to the most in-demand or high-value skills. 

Put more into college recruiting and internship programs. Recent grads and young candidates still in college may have the digital skills your organization needs, especially data visualization, analytics, and AI. One upside of the pandemic is that organizations can ramp up virtual college recruiting and internship programs with a smaller investment of time and resources. Learn more about modern hiring technologies that will help you engage and select qualified candidates on campus in this case study.

Partner with a staffing agency. Some high-value skills may be easier to develop through a partnership with a specialized staffing agency. A temporary employee with in-demand skills can help you meet immediate and short-term needs and become a robust temp-to-permanent hiring option.

Want to know what hiring practitioners should have on their radar this year? Find out in our 2021 Hiring Trends Reportavailable now for free download and sharing

Gain an edge with pre-employment assessments

Pre-employment assessments that offer candidates a realistic job preview and the chance to experience an immersive job simulation can give your recruiting team the edge in hiring for high-value or in-demand skills. These features enable candidates to learn more about your organization and make an informed decision even as your team assesses the candidate’s future job performance. Modern Hire’s Virtual Job Tryout® is integrated into an all-in-one hiring platform to creates personal hiring experiences to keep candidates engaged from the first contact through a job offer. Read more about how your organization can improve hiring for high-value skills in our white paper, Personalized Hiring: Better Engagement = Better Hires.