Simplilearn conducted its annual survey of learners and executives in late 2020 to discover IT skills training trends. This year’s survey asked about respondents’ career developments in 2020 and their attitudes towards their career prospects in 2021. The report focuses on the impact of the past year, expectations for 2021, and how job aspirants plan to adapt to the new ecosystem.

More than 500 Simplilearn learners, comprising both individual and corporate learners, responded to the survey. Survey respondents included 19.4% freshers, 51.3% mid-level professionals, and 29.2% professionals at the senior level. The majority of the respondents were in the IT sector; other sectors included manufacturing, consulting, and finance.

The Challenges of 2020

2020 saw the business landscape evolve. This evolution resulted in new job requirements and prompted working professionals and job seekers to invest in new skills to ensure that they prepare not only for today but for a future that keeps evolving.

 2020 Changed Many Respondents' Career Plans

  • 14% lost their jobs, with the impact worst in Manufacturing and Finance 
  • Of the respondents in mid-career, 41% believed their careers stagnated
  • 25% of respondents in large organizations felt stuck, especially those in Consulting, Finance, and Healthcare/Pharma


Outlook 2021: Upskilling Gives Many Professionals Hope for Better Careers

Professionals are making upskilling part of their proactive approach to career success in 2021.

  • 35% of respondents used the pandemic as an opportunity to learn new skills; in small and medium enterprises, this number rose to 49.5%
  • 67.5% of professionals believe learning will lead to better opportunities; they plan to start upskilling programs in 2021
  • 4% of respondents feel they have to learn new skills to keep their jobs 
  • 66% of respondents plan to start a skills training program in 2021 or are already enrolled in one

Career Benefits Professionals Expect from Upskilling in 2021

Partly because of the pandemic and partly despite it, demand for technology professionals will be strong in 2021.

  • 54.3% of professionals believe upskilling will provide better opportunities in 2021 or lead to pay raises and promotions in their current jobs
  • 20% expect upskilling to future-proof their careers
  • 25.8% hope upskilling will unlock a new career path that lets them follow their passion

The Most Effective Way to Learn a New Skill

Because online learning offers the advantages of learning anytime from anywhere and diverse learning preferences, it’s the preferred mode of upskilling among professionals. 

  • 71% believe that the best way to learn a skill today is via either paid online programs or self-paced learning with free online courses
  • 72.8% percent of professionals definitely plan to enroll in an online certification program or are exploring what skills they want to acquire in 2021
  • Programs in Digital Operations, Technology, and Data & AI were the first, second, and third most popular
  • Mid-career (31- to 40-year-old) learners preferred Data Science and AI/ML programs, while young (under 25) and senior-level (over 50) learners tended to choose Digital Business 
  • Digital Operations and Technology programs were popular with learners in the early-career (30-year-old and younger) stage
  • Learners were more likely to use the mobile app for learning programs than a desktop


Value-add from Online Learning Programs

Professionals strongly prefer learning by doing with programs that provide hands-on experience with the skills they are learning. 

  • Most respondents prefer the Bootcamp learning model, which provides applied learning aligned with industry requirements
  • 75% of respondents prefer programs based on applied learning that include projects and practice labs coupled with industry partnerships and accreditations 

Both students and professionals increasingly demand online learning and employers, and universities fully support this trend. Digital economy skills are vital to building a healthy career because they are essential to employers for digital transformation and long-term competitiveness. Ultimately, upskilling and reskilling are the keys to a better career in 2021 and beyond.

You can read the entire report here: IT Skills Training Trends: 2020 and 2021. 

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