Popular skills quickly get outdated in the rapidly changing tech sector as new ones emerge. With COVID-19 turning companies on their heads, we are looking at skills that are most in-demand when the pandemic subsides. Since the UK was forced into lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak in March, IT workers, like many in other fields, had to deal with homework, tightening budgets, job cuts, and the economic downturn that followed the pandemic. You can also use this salary calculator tool for your next salary prediction.

But a recent Deloitte report notes some areas of the tech industry might actually be stronger than expected. IT spending forecasts point to a continuing demand for cloud infrastructure services and a growing need for communications equipment and telecom services as employees continue to work remotely and teach online moves.

69 percent of CIOs believe that COVID-19 will have a major impact on business. Deloitte also says that in the future, organizations will need more help from IT service providers in order to procure devices, establish resilient and flexible networks, and provide distributed workers with higher levels of security.

"It is no great surprise to see that Covid-19 has had an impact on the tech industry, much like the rest of the business world," said CWJobs director Dominic Harvey. "However, it is good to see that overall confidence in the industry remains high."

He predicted the tech scene of the United Kingdom could rebound enough to kick on once the pandemic subsides – and if IT budgets to increase.

"Until then, it's clear that IT professionals are focused on providing the support they can and ensuring that they have the right skills in place to keep things going now, before expanding into the future as it all gets back on track," Harvey said.

Not surprisingly, the tech skills that were most in demand last year may not be as coveted as lockdown companies. While the pressure to keep up with the new tech and the growing demand for skills can seem relentless, being ahead of the curve is never a bad idea. Here are the key skills to keep an eye on as your IT career continues to develop.

Network architects

Communication networks such as local area networks ( LANs), wide area networks ( WANs), and intranets are the responsibility of network architects. For an estimated 60 percent of the UK's adult population now operating from home because of the Coronavirus lockout, corporate VPNs are under immense pressure and network maintenance and protection has become an increasingly complex activity.

Networks and facilities have never been designed to accommodate such large-scale work-from-home activities, and while offices are gradually beginning to reopen in some parts of the world, a number of studies indicate that the overwhelming majority of workers do not want to return to the workplace full time – even though it is safe to do so. As a result, companies will need professional network architects to ensure that networks can meet their increasing demands, troubleshoot any device failures, and address bandwidth, scalability, and reliability issues.

Wages for network architects have risen from 2019, reflecting the increasing demand for individuals with this specific skill set, according to Robert Half's 2020 Salary Guide.

Collaboration tools

Many office staff has taken an accidental crash course over the last three months on how to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, and a number of other collaboration channels. After the global lockdowns were implemented in March, all three have registered exponential user growth, giving workers a new, more casual way to stay in contact.

Since most offices still closed, the only way that most coworkers can interact and collaborate efficiently is via these channels. And although getting a grasp of the basics is enough to get by, for now, a professional understanding of these channels would be a critical skill set in the future.

Another survey found that after the pandemic only 13 percent of staff decided to return to the workplace full time, meaning employees would work online together for the near future. Hence, learning how to schedule, organize and facilitate video calls; collaborating effectively and efficiently on projects across networks such as Teams; and having virtual meetings with both staff and clients are likely to rely on invaluable skills for potential employees.

Wayne Kurtzman, director of collaboration and social media analysis at IDC, said IDC saw collaborative applications expand by nearly 20 percent in 2019 when workplaces were still open.

"Collaboration is a radical change in the way work is conducted, relying more on collaboration, and taking advantage of expertise rather than silos. The implementation of these technologies has been boosted by five years, thanks to COVID-19.

"Briefly: They 're here to stay," he said.

AWS

Developer site Stack Overflow recorded growing demand for AWS skills across the UK and Ireland last year, with the famous cloud computing platform moving from 12th to 5th position and gaining a 10.3 percent share of the skill tags contained in the job listings of Stack Overflow. Pluralsight 's learning platform has also identified AWS to be its fifth most common capability on a more global basis.

According to figures on average annual compensation from PayScale, this requirement is expressed in average wages of £52,750 for AWS specialists, to £65,000 for an AWS solution architect. A blog post on LinkedIn Learning also outlined how cloud computing skills, such as AWS expertise, emerged as the most in-demand ability for 2019, according to LinkedIn data.

Throughout the pandemic, cloud technology has played a major role, offering the kind of business versatility that is crucial as business needs and goals change.

Jay Litkey, Snow Software's executive vice president of cloud management, said that while many CIOs are being asked to cut costs, technology investments will continue to allow for long-term growth and stability.

A survey conducted by Snow showed that 60 percent of IT leaders expect to expand their overall use of the cloud, with 66 percent of respondents saying they would continue to use the cloud services and applications they introduced during the crisis once workers return to work.

Information security

Cybersecurity skills remain in high demand with a well-publicized capability gap and a continuously changing threat environment.

While tech professionals may feel the need for general IT support skills in the short term, many are also aware of threats. More than a third (36 percent) of CWJobs' annual Confidence Index chose cybersecurity as a specialism needed right now; it also emerged as the most desired skill needed in the coming year (also 36 percent), ahead of the cloud (30 percent).

And with so many people working from home, not only has the threat environment increased, it's becoming more complex. COVID-19 brought with it a host of new security challenges from deciding which endpoint protection all those remote staff need to ensure remote access does not pose new risks.

The National Cyber Awareness program has warned of the circulating COVID-19 scams. As a result, while cybersecurity experts will continue to be highly in demand, every department employee should have a basic understanding of security and skills to keep themselves and their organizations safe and secure.

Upskill yourself while working from home

If, as a result of the pandemic, you have been furloughed or find yourself with more time on your hands now that you are not working, you can use those additional hours to learn new skills.

Also if you don't expect to change careers anytime soon, both the employee and the employer benefit from personal and career growth. It doesn't have to be costly or time-consuming, it can be important to your current job or it can actually give you a transferable bonus ability that could be useful for potential roles.

Online services provide a plethora of webinars and training courses, and as a result of the pandemic, many service providers give consumers free or discounted rates. For example, Skillsoft, for those interested in online learning, provides 60 days of free access to Percipio.

Podcasts have long been the subject of choice for commuters to listen to. Once you catch up with your favorite true crime or sports show, however, you can listen to one of the hundreds offered by experts talking about an area of expertise you 'd like to brush on. Start looking for keywords relevant to your latest ability of choice in your favorite podcast app to weed out international possibilities.

Ultimately, in the conventional sense, not being able to network with others doesn't mean you can't practically still communicate. Stay in contact with colleagues or future mentors and suggest an informal video chat over a cup. Networking in itself is an essential business skill so make sure you try to remain linked to people.