Programming and coding most sought technical skills in region

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Knowing how to code may be one of the most useful technical skills for the jobs of the future (Photo: Adobe Stock)

A newly published skills and employment trends report has analysed 1.5 million UK job adverts posted between March and September 2020 to find that during the pandemic the most sought-after skills in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are coding, agile software methodology and pharmaceuticals. 

The report, produced in a partnership between The Skills Network and Emsi, was commissioned to help identify the most valuable skills and training for those seeking jobs or opportunities to learn something new.

Six of the top 10 technical skills listed as most sought in the region were related to programming or software engineering. The others included pharmaceuticals, business development, auditing and new product development.

The most in-demand 'soft skills' – defined as the more 'human' skills that show how a person works, solves problems or interacts with people – include communication, management, sales, customer service and enthusiasm.

Speaking about the report, Mark Dawe, chief executive from The Skills Network, said: "Coding and programming are the most in demand skills in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire – having been posted in 3,858 job adverts – followed by agile software methodology (2,833) and pharmaceuticals (2,684).

"With unemployment figures rising and the government furlough scheme coming to an end, our report provides job seekers with the knowledge of the most in-demand skills in the job market, right now – and the insight into the key areas to focus any training."

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the jobs market in ways that may still not yet be fully understood, with the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) warning that the crisis has accelerated automation.

Fabian Wallace-Stephens of the RSA, said: "Covid-19 is accelerating the rise of the robots, with some sectors seeing five years of digital transformation in five months alone, but the Government's response to the pandemic risks us losing many 'automation-proof' jobs.

The arts and entertainment, travel and tourism, and the creative industries, are likely to be important areas for jobs growth in the future, but need more support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Likewise, many workers who need to be retrained may be lulled into a false sense of security by the current pandemic.

We saw increased demand for supermarket workers during the first lockdown, but technology such as checkout-free stores could prove to be a gamechanger in the second wave. 

Mr Wallace-Steohens called for targeted support for at-risk sectors with a long-term future, better support for workers including 'job security councils', and more retraining.

It was announced in September that the government will fund a package of measures to help people gain new skills, with free courses available from April in England. An additional £2.5 billion has been allocated to the National Skills Fund to advance education and skills training for those who need to change career due to the pandemic.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the Government had "taken an important step toward a more agile adult skills system".

The BCC's head of people policy Jane Gratton said: "The Government's renewed focus on FE, greater investment in technical and digital skills and a more flexible skills system must go hand-in-hand with high quality local delivery that responds quickly to the growth aspirations of business."