When it comes to hiring for today's workforce, there's no escaping the need for people equipped with digital skills. In fact, a new report shows each of the 10 fastest-growing job skills is in the digital realm.
"The ongoing evolution of technology means employers are regularly seeking new digital competencies from potential hires while also reskilling existing workers," wrote Zac Rule, vice president North America, enterprise, at online learning platform Coursera, which recently released its list of the fastest-growing job skills for 2023.
Here's the global list of the 10 fastest-growing job skills as ranked by Coursera (based on course enrollments):
- Scrum software development
- Data visualization
- Customer success tools
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software
- User experience design
- Agile software development
- Software framework development
- System software development
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Underscoring the ever-evolving nature of digital skills, only two of the top 10 for this year were repeats from last year: data visualization and user experience design.
The Coursera report also identified the fastest-growing job skills by region. In North America, the top five are:
- Customer success tools
- CRM software
- Back-end Web development
In-Demand Workers Set Own Terms
Of course, salaries in each of the top five North American categories can vary widely, depending in part on job duties and technical skills. For example, the average salary for a customer success manager in the U.S. is $52,309, according to job platform Indeed, while the average salary for a back-end Web developer in the U.S. is $115,952.
In many cases, people with digital skills can command robust salaries and perks due to the ongoing talent gap. In-demand perks for tech workers include flexibility in terms of remote work and work schedules.
A 2022 report from job platform Hired indicated that candidates for tech jobs "are still emboldened." Nearly 90 percent of tech workers said they'd immediately start looking for a new job if they were denied a pay raise in the next six months, and half expected salary increases by 2023.
Despite the growing number of tech layoffs in the U.S., thousands of tech-focused jobs remain unfilled. A recent report from career marketplace Dice found that more than 375,000 openings for tech jobs were posted as of October 2022.
One reason may be the ongoing gap in tech skills. A 2022 survey commissioned by cloud services provider Cloudreach and Amazon Web Services found that more than 70 percent of IT leaders around the world viewed the skills gap as an urgent concern.
The shortage of tech talent can hurt employers' ability to foster innovation, improve customer and/or employee experiences, and boost productivity, Coursera said. The skills drought also has a financial cost: Consulting giant Korn Ferry said the U.S. stands to lose $162 billion in annual revenue unless it finds more tech workers.
Employers Ready to Pay for, Maintain Talent
Despite worries about the economy and the shortage of tech talent, the demand for digital skills appears to be here for the long haul.
"We've seen this trend accelerate over the past couple of years, and it will continue to grow as more industries and companies prioritize digital transformation," said Rich Jacquet, chief people officer at Coursera. "As critical as it is to invest in technology, it is just as crucial to invest in your people to hold a competitive advantage."
Carol Cochran, vice president of people and culture at career platform FlexJobs, said the emphasis on digital skills dovetails with the rise of remote work. Employers offering remote-work options must find employees with experience using several types of technology, such as project management software and company-specific platforms, along with the willingness to immerse themselves in new technology, she said.
But, Cochran added, it's not enough to hire employees with strong digital skills.
"As technology advances, companies must continue to hone and build workers' skills to stay relevant, competitive and agile," said Cochran, referring to a skill-building practice known as "new skilling."
Employers shouldn't dismiss the importance of human-centered skills, such as leadership, management, communication and storytelling, and how those mesh with digital skills, she said.
The Coursera report identified the 10 fastest-growing human skills:
- Change management
- Organizational development
- People management
Human-centered skills "will remain staples for personal and professional development," Coursera's Jacquet said, adding that HR and learning-and-development leaders must put more emphasis on developing these skills to help managers and employees communicate more effectively, navigate uncertainty and "future-proof" their organizations.
"The combination of the pandemic and current economic conditions has helped us realize that while technological innovation is essential, our people must come first," Jacquet said. "Increasing employees' proficiency in human skills is integral for long-term business success and employee retention."
John Egan is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas.