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AI specialists and software engineers among most popular UK roles, says LinkedIn

Demand for specialist software engineers and people with skills in AI have risen, according to professional network LinkedIn

Specialist software engineers and artificial intelligence (AI) professionals are some of the fastest growing roles in the UK, according to LinkedIn.

Research by the social media network, which looked into popular UK job roles among its 29 million UK members, analysed job titles that saw the highest year-on-year (YoY) growth between April and October 2020, and found that a number of digital and technical roles were among the most popular.

Janine Chamberlin, senior director at LinkedIn, said: “Technology roles have proven to be ‘pandemic-proof’ as companies accelerate digital transformation and evolve their business models to respond to Covid-19.

“We’ve seen growing demand for software engineering specialists, machine learning engineers, and back-end developers across a range of industries. With more change ahead inevitable, people with these specialist skills stand in good stead of taking their pick of some of the most exciting roles out there.”

The coronavirus outbreak shone a light on the need for digital skills, not only among companies trying to stay afloat while staff worked from home, but also among people who were now forced to use technology to facilitate their day-to-day lives.

Though hiring in the beginning of the pandemic looked uncertain, it began to recover as people adapted, and LinkedIn cited roles in software engineering were among some of the most “pandemic-proof” roles.

The professional network found e-commerce roles among some of the fastest growing as people’s shopping habits changed as a result of the pandemic.

E-commerce related roles, such as delivery drivers, supply chain associates and online specialists grew by 143% YoY in 2020, and demand for skills in retail and order fulfilment were popular.

Most of the people with e-commerce job titles were centred around Birmingham, Northampton, Manchester, and Leicester.

LinkedIn found specialised engineering roles, such as back-end developer, specialist software engineers and games designers and developers, grew 45% YoY in 2020, including top skills such as knowledge of the programming language Go, games design, games development, JavaScript and reliability engineering.

Roles in AI have been growing over the past few years, and while the pandemic in some cases caused hiring uncertainty, LinkedIn found the number of people in machine learning and AI roles grew by 40% YoY in 2020.

These roles featured top skills such as deep learning and machine learning, and were mainly focused in the London, Cambridge, and Manchester areas.

The number of freelancers focused on creating digital content increased in 2020, with roles such as blogging and podcasting increasing by 118% compared to 2019.

In the same vein, roles in social media and digital marketing also increased in 2020, with a 52% YoY growth when compared to 2019.

LinkedIn speculated budgets for marketing may have been tightened as a result of the pandemic, leading to an increase in less traditional marketing roles such as growth hacker and social media manager.

Other roles on the rise in 2020 included those related to health, such as healthcare supporting staff, specialised medical professionals and mental health professionals, as well as construction, finance and education.

One of the top skills for education-related roles in 2020 was e-learning as schools were forced to teach children online, a scenario which has been repeated in early 2021.

Read more about technology skills

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  • Councils in Scotland still suffer from a lack of digital skills among staff despite progress during the pandemic, and the Scottish Local Government Digital Office has failed to deliver its goal of common platforms and joint procurement, according to Audit Scotland’s Accounts Commission.
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