The best jobs to aim for in 2021

Portrait of smiling woman at home sitting at table using laptop
Many jobs are becoming more flexible with several sectors moving into home working during the pandemic. Photo: Getty

If you’re graduating or looking to move jobs in the next year, it is tricky to know exactly what kind of employment to aim for. There’s hope for the UK jobs market after a tumultuous year, but it will take a long time for things to return to some sort of normal.

The employment sector in particular was hit hard in 2020 as companies ceased recruiting and began to make redundancies. Many businesses were forced to move to online working and allow employees to work from home full-time. Some businesses have managed to bounce back, but the workforce has undoubtedly changed.

“According to McKinsey around 24{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} of the UK’s jobs are at risk because of COVID-19 related lockdowns,” says Victoria McLean, founder and CEO of international careers consultancy City CV.

“We’ve been running outplacement programmes with companies in the most at risk sectors such as non-food high street retail, pubs and restaurants, tech and cyber security, airlines and events. But other sectors are still hiring — supermarkets, delivery services and healthcare to name a few.”

READ MORE: Three essential steps to ensure female employees don’t miss out post-pandemic

According to an analysis of UK job listings on Adzuna over the past year by the tech firm Quadrotech, several industries saw growth and demand. Unsurprisingly, courier jobs were in-demand this year with more than 188,000 monthly vacancies. And while businesses focused on continuing trade, the demand for sales roles also increased with nearly 110,000 monthly vacancies.

Other jobs in high demand were positions such as cleaners, customer service roles and electricians. It’s no surprise that essential workers also made the top ten too, including teachers.

Mental health counsellors are also in demand as a result of the coronavirus lockdown. With increased awareness and discussion of practising self-care and talking openly about mental health and wellbeing, vacancies for counsellors and therapists rose by a massive 671{c25493dcd731343503a084f08c3848bd69f9f2f05db01633325a3fd40d9cc7a1} in the past year.

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Another big change is that many jobs are becoming more flexible. Employers in the technology, finance, consulting and legal sectors were forced into home working during the pandemic.

“Many have been pleasantly surprised by how well that’s working. I think we’re likely to see some sort of hybrid working model emerge next year where most people in these sectors will settle into a mix of home, head office and regional hub working,” McLean says.

Despite the major disruption and uncertainty, there may be more opportunities for people to create their own roles and work-life balance too.

“Anything to do with the ‘at-home economy’ has been booming this year — online retailers have seen sales of home gym and yoga kits go through the roof and we’ve seen restaurants and food start-ups delivering home meal kits for example,” McLean says. “Creative, entrepreneurial types may well be able to tap into these trends and start their own business.”

READ MORE: How to plan your finances if you are worried about redundancy

In addition, we may see more home working and flexibility in areas we tend not to associate with that, such as healthcare and education.

“Potentially, there could be lots of opportunities with the rise of remote consultations, home-schooling and online adult education and coaching,” McLean says.

“As a society, we really need to support those people made redundant as a result of the pandemic to find new roles in the growth areas of the economy. The job market has changed so much, most people need support to navigate it effectively, including how to market themselves effectively on their CV, on social media and at an interview.”

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