Five Digital Skills Sought-After by Businesses Worldwide

14 mins

Throughout our experience as a digital apprenticeship provider, we have seen first-hand the ...

By Pareto Team


Throughout our experience as a digital apprenticeship provider, we have seen first-hand the growing trend of businesses going through digital transformations and increasingly embracing technologies to streamline operations, save costs, and elevate the customer experience.

While there are many scare stories of AI taking all our jobs in future years, the real story is that there are so many career opportunities and personal advancement opportunities by learning the digital skills that are becoming highly sought after by companies worldwide.

This guide will explore the obvious starting question - what are digital skills? We discover why they are so important in the modern world. We will then look at five of the most crucial digital skills that will help advance the careers of talented candidates and our society as a whole. These skills are:

  • Cyber Security

  • Data Analytics 

  • Digital Marketing 

  • Artificial Intelligence Programming 

  • Cloud Computing

What are Digital Skills?

Digital skills refer to the ability to use digital devices, communication apps, and networks for accessing and managing information. They enable tasks such as creating, sharing, communicating, and collaborating globally and instantly. It's important to note that these skills vary widely, encompassing both technical abilities like data management and IT, as well as fundamental skills such as problem-solving and communication.

From basic to advanced levels, digital skills are highly transferable and increasingly important for employability. As the job market evolves due to digital technology and automation, transferable skills, especially those related to digital proficiency, are becoming more sought after.

Why are Digital Skills Important?

As industries increasingly embrace digital transformation, many job roles now require digital proficiency. Whether it's understanding cybersecurity, analysing data, or using digital marketing tools, having these skills is crucial for career advancement. Moreover, advanced digital skills can lead to better job opportunities and higher salaries. Moreover, possessing the right digital skills can create new job opportunities, help individuals stand out in a competitive job market, and potentially lead to higher salaries. 

For those entering apprenticeships or educational environments as part of their career development, digital skills have also transformed the learning experience. Online platforms and digital tools such as:

  • Webinars

  • Learning Management Systems (LMS)

  • Online Communities

  • Interactive Learning Apps (such as Kahoot and Quizizz)

  • Digital Content Creation Tools (such as Canva and Adobe)

These tools are now integral to teaching and learning in the modern world. Students need digital literacy to excel in this environment, as it's essential for research, collaboration, and communication. However, despite their importance in the modern workplace, there is a worrying lack of professionals who possess the skills needed to help businesses thrive in this technological age, which the statistics below highlight. 

Did you Know: 

On a more positive note, these statistics also highlight the need for talented professionals who possess these skills. Whether you already have digital skills or are looking to gain them through a training or apprenticeship programme, they will allow you to stand out when applying for roles and open up a wide range of career opportunities. 

Digital skills cover a wide range of areas, needs, and technologies. The list below highlights some of the most crucial skills businesses are increasingly looking for. So, let’s jump in and start with the world of cyber security. 

1. Cyber Security 

As technology has developed and the benefits have increased, so have the risks. The digital world has opened them up to data breaches, cloud security risks,  insider threats, malware and ransomware, and phishing. As technology continues to advance, so do cybercriminals. To highlight the threat, 1 in 5 businesses have been victims of a cyber attack in the past year, with the average cost of these attacks being £21,000. 

With the threat to businesses in mind, it comes as no surprise to learn that global cyber security spending is forecast to exceed £1.30 trillion by 2025. With this investment, the demand for talented individuals with these skills will only increase. 

Here are the key benefits of cyber security skills to businesses:

  • Build Customer Trust - Effective cybersecurity practices demonstrate a commitment to protecting customer data and privacy, fostering trust and loyalty among customers and stakeholders, thus maintaining a positive reputation.

  • Data Protection and Compliance - Implementing robust cybersecurity measures ensures the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, facilitating compliance with regulations like GDPR.

  • Cost Savings - Proactive cybersecurity measures help businesses avoid the financial costs associated with data breaches, including forensic investigations, legal fees, regulatory fines, and potential loss of revenue due to downtime or reputational damage.

  • Innovation and Expansion - Through developing a secure environment for digital innovation, cybersecurity expertise empowers businesses to harness emerging technologies like cloud computing, IoT, and AI, fostering growth, enhancing efficiency, and facilitating the delivery of inventive products and services.

  • Threat Recognition and Mitigation - Businesses with cybersecurity expertise can detect, evaluate, and counter potential cyber threats like malware, phishing attacks, ransomware, and data breaches.

  • Decreased Downtime - Cyberattacks can disrupt operations, leading to significant downtime affecting productivity and revenue. Cybersecurity expertise is instrumental in maintaining business continuity and mitigating disruptions.

So, what do cyber security skills entail exactly? Here is a breakdown of the key areas:

  • Network Security - Understanding how to design, implement, and maintain secure networks to prevent unauthorised access, data breaches, and other network-related threats.

  • Cloud Security - Securing data and systems stored in cloud environments.

  • Risk Management - Identifying, assessing, and mitigating cybersecurity risks to a business.

  • Secure Software Development - Understanding secure coding practices and methodologies to develop and maintain software applications resistant to vulnerabilities and exploitation.

  • Compliance and Regulatory Frameworks - Understand industry-specific cyber security regulations, standards, and best practices to ensure organisational compliance and adherence to legal requirements.

  • Knowledge of Scripting and Programming - Competence in languages such as Python, Bash, or PowerShell proves invaluable for automating tasks, data analysis, and the creation of security tools.

Cyber security professionals play important roles in sectors like healthcare, finance, government, and retail, ensuring data security and compliance with regulations. As automation, cloud technologies and remote work become more common, the need for cyber security skills continues to grow. Acquiring these skills not only ensures career stability but also helps safeguard digital assets and infrastructure. 

2. Data Analytics

Data analytics is fast becoming a game-changer, empowering businesses to make data-driven decisions, streamline operations, and gain a competitive edge. It's no longer just a "nice to have'' but a crucial tool for navigating the complexities of modern business across every sector. Here are the key benefits of data analytics skills for businesses:

  • Elevated Customer Experience - Data analytics can aid businesses in understanding their customers better, enabling them to personalise marketing campaigns, provide a more relevant customer experience, and develop tailored products and services. 

  • Save Money and Increase Efficiency - By analysing data, companies can identify areas to streamline processes and operations, save time, and improve the workforce’s overall efficiency. This can lead to reduced costs and better profitability. 

  • More Informed Decision-making - Gathering data can provide valuable insights that help businesses make informed and strategic decisions across the organisation. This data allows companies to analyse key areas such as customer behaviour, operational efficiency, financial performance, and marketing effectiveness. 

  • Fraud Detection and Risk Management - Data can be used to identify fraudulent activity and potential risks, enabling businesses to take proactive measures to mitigate them.

So, what do data analytics skills entail exactly? Here is a breakdown of the key areas:

  • Statistical Analysis - Understanding statistical concepts such as inferential statistics, regression analysis, and hypothesis testing supports you in interpreting data and making informed conclusions. 

  • Understanding of Programming Languages - You would be proficient in Rust, Python, and SQL, which is essential for data analysis, visualisation, and manipulation. 

  • Data Management - Understanding how to manage, store, and retrieve data in various databases. 

  • Machine Learning and Data Mining - You would gain knowledge of data mining techniques and machine learning algorithms to use in areas such as clustering, predictive modelling, classification, natural language processing (NLP), and regression. 

  • Data Cleaning - The ability to clean and transform raw data into a usable format includes outlier detection, handling missing data, data input, and normalisation. 

Examples of the types of roles which use data analytics include:

  • Data Scientist 

  • Data Analyst 

  • Market Research Analyst 

  • Financial Analytics 

  • Risk Analyst 

  • Business Intelligence Analyst

These roles are certainly not exhaustive; as the use of data increases, more roles will emerge. Another advantage of gaining these skills is that data is used across a wide range of industries, including health care, education, sales, marketing, finance, life science, and construction. 

3. Digital Marketing 

Digital marketing involves all promotional activities carried out on the Internet. Businesses utilise digital platforms like search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and potential customers. Here are the key benefits of digital marketing for businesses:

  • Enhanced brand visibility and engagement - Utilising various digital channels such as social media, content marketing, and email campaigns enables businesses to engage in direct interaction with their audience, fostering relationships and building brand loyalty. This interactive communication fosters a better understanding of customers, enabling businesses to tailor offerings accordingly.

  • Expand audience reach - Unlike traditional marketing methods limited by geographical boundaries, digital marketing enables businesses to connect with potential customers worldwide, presenting new markets and growth opportunities, regardless of their location.

  • Measurable results - A major benefit of digital marketing is its measurability. Businesses can monitor crucial metrics like website traffic, engagement rates, conversions, and ROI for each campaign, allowing them to refine their strategy and optimise their efforts effectively.

  • Improved conversion rates - Targeting the appropriate audience with relevant messaging and employing effective calls to action can significantly boost conversions, whether it's website signups, online purchases, or leads generated.

  • Personalisation - Digital marketing facilitates customised communication and offerings for each customer, creating a more engaging and relevant experience. This personalised approach often results in increased satisfaction and brand loyalty.

  • Cost-effectiveness - Digital marketing is often more economical than traditional channels such as print or TV advertisements. By customising their budget for specific campaigns and targeting the appropriate audience, businesses can maximise their return on investment (ROI).

So, what do digital marketing skills entail exactly? Here is a breakdown of the key areas:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - Knowing how to optimise websites and content for search engines like Google to improve organic visibility.

  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising - Understanding how to run paid advertising campaigns on platforms like Google Ads and social media platforms.

  • Web Analytics - Ability to use tools like Google Analytics to track user behaviour, website traffic, and campaign performance.

  • Social Media Marketing - Ability to develop and execute social media strategies across platforms such as X, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others.

  • Creativity and Design Skills - Basic design skills and creativity to produce visually appealing graphics, images, videos, and other multimedia content for digital marketing campaigns.

  • Website Management - Understanding how to build and maintain a website, including basic HTML, CSS, and CMS knowledge.

Examples of the types of roles which use digital marketing skills include:

  • Digital Marketer

  • Marketing Manager

  • Content Strategist 

  • Social Media Manager 

  • Copywriter 

Digital marketing skills are highly versatile and applicable across various industries, offering opportunities for professionals with diverse interests and skill sets. Industries heavily reliant on online presence, such as technology, e-commerce, education, finance, and healthcare, as well as non-profit, travel, professional services, and manufacturing, benefit greatly from your digital marketing skills. 

4. Artificial Intelligence Programming 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming involves developing algorithms and models to help machines simulate human intelligence. It's a field of computer science focused on creating systems capable of performing tasks like learning, problem-solving, decision-making, and perception, which are typically associated with humans. 

Here are the key benefits of AI programming skills for businesses:

  • Enhanced Efficiency and Productivity - AI automation streamlines operations by handling repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus on strategic initiatives. This improves overall efficiency and productivity within the organisation.

  • Improved Customer Experience - AI enables personalised marketing and recommendations based on individual customer preferences, leading to higher engagement and satisfaction. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots provide instant customer support 24/7, enhancing the customer experience.

  • Increased Revenue and Growth - Through targeted advertising, AI identifies promising customer segments and tailors campaigns accordingly, resulting in higher return on investment (ROI). Moreover, AI analyses market trends and customer data to identify new product and service opportunities, fostering business growth.

  • Reduces Human Error - AI minimises errors in decision-making by automating complex calculations and data analysis, ensuring more accurate insights and outcomes.

  • Automating Repetitive Tasks - AI automates tedious tasks, allowing employees to focus on strategic and creative initiatives that foster business innovation.

So, what do artificial intelligence programming skills entail exactly? Here is a breakdown of the key areas:

  • Strong Programming Languages - Proficiency in programming languages such as Python, Java, C++, and R, essential for building AI models and applications.

  • Data Structures and Algorithms - Understanding data structures and algorithms to efficiently store, organise, and manipulate data is crucial for effective AI algorithm implementation.

  • Software Engineering Principles - Knowledge of design patterns, software development methodologies, and testing practices to build robust and maintainable AI systems.

  • Database Modelling and Data Processing - Knowledge of database technology, relational algebra, SQL, and NoSQL databases for managing and manipulating data efficiently.

  • Machine Learning - Understanding various machine learning algorithms (e.g., decision trees, neural networks) and their applications in classification, regression, and forecasting tasks.

  • Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI) - Understanding of designing user interfaces for interactive systems, considering human factors and interactions with AI technologies.

Examples of the types of roles which use Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming skills include:

  • Machine Learning Engineer

  • Data Scientist

  • Robotics Engineer

  • Business Intelligence Analyst

  • Software Engineer

Artificial Intelligence (AI) programming skills are widely applicable across various industries to boost efficiency and gain competitive advantages. Sectors like healthcare, education, marketing, banking and finance, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, insurance, telecommunications, and energy utilise AI programming to improve operations, streamline decision-making, enhance customer experiences, and drive innovation.

5. Cloud Computing 

Cloud computing delivers computing services over the internet, providing access to resources like servers, storage, databases, and software. It offers flexibility and scalability, allowing users to pay for what they use. In both personal and business settings, cloud computing enables quick access to applications and advanced technologies like AI and machine learning without the need to manage physical infrastructure.

Here are the key benefits of cloud computing skills for businesses:

  • Scalability - Cloud services offer flexibility, enabling businesses to easily adjust their computing resources based on demand, ensuring optimal performance and cost-effectiveness.

  • Enhanced Security - Cloud service providers implement robust security measures to protect data and infrastructure, offering advanced security features beyond what many businesses can implement on their own.

  • Business Continuity - Cloud computing facilitates easy implementation of disaster recovery and backup solutions, ensuring data accessibility even in case of unexpected disruptions.

  • Increased Efficiency - Cloud services automate tasks, streamline processes, and provide access to advanced technologies, enhancing operational efficiency and productivity.

  • Cost Efficiency - Cloud computing reduces upfront costs by eliminating the need for physical infrastructure investment and allows businesses to pay only for the resources they use.

  • Competitive Advantage - Leveraging cloud computing enables businesses to stay agile, innovate rapidly, and respond quickly to market changes, gaining a competitive edge.

So, what do cloud computing skills entail exactly? Here is a breakdown of the key areas:

  • Networking - Familiarity with cloud networking concepts and configuring network components in cloud environments.

  • Security and Compliance - Knowledge of cloud security best practices, identity management, encryption, and compliance standards.

  • Cloud Platforms - Proficiency in major cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, including their features and management interfaces.

  • Cloud Concepts - Understanding fundamental cloud computing concepts such as deployment models, service models, and key components.

  • Cloud Storage - Understanding cloud storage services and their data management capabilities.

  • Monitoring and Logging - Proficiency in cloud monitoring and logging tools for tracking resource usage and application logs.

  • DevOps Practices - Understanding of DevOps principles, continuous integration/delivery, and collaboration tools.

Examples of the types of roles which use cloud computing skills include:

  • DevOps Engineer

  • Cloud Solutions Architect

  • Data Engineer 

  • Business Analyst 

  • Technical Support Engineer

  • Sales Engineer

Expertise in cloud computing is important in sectors like finance, healthcare, and retail, supporting critical processes and driving growth. With remote work on the rise and cloud integration expanding, mastering cloud technology opens doors to a wider range of career prospects.

Digital Skills: The Final Word 

Digital skills are increasingly important in today's workplaces, covering a wide range of abilities from technical know-how to basic understanding. As industries shift towards digital platforms, the demand for individuals with these skills continues to grow.

From cybersecurity and data analytics to digital marketing and artificial intelligence programming, these competencies not only improve career prospects but also drive innovation across vital sectors, such as healthcare, finance, sales, marketing, and agriculture. With the continued rise of digital technologies and remote work, mastering these skills is essential for staying relevant in the job market. Are you prepared to embrace the digital future?

Considering a Digital Apprenticeship? Pareto can Help!

Ready to kickstart your career with Pareto's exceptional apprenticeship programmes? With over 25 years of industry-leading experience, we're your trusted partner for training and development. Explore our tailored apprenticeship solutions today, learn those valuable digital skills, and unlock your career potential.

Contact us today for more information about digital apprenticeships. 

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