The Digital Talent Forecast

Published on Aug 11, 2021

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Clare Coffey

The Digital Talent Forecast

For more than a decade, business leaders have sounded alarms about the shortage of tech talent, often using language more appropriate for the battlefield than for the boardroom. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for tech jobs, like software developers and data-related roles, will continue to grow rapidly over the coming decade. And recent research suggests that tech hiring has continued to trend upward as the country makes its way out of the pandemic.

For business leaders, the need to understand the evolving role of tech skills in the labor market has, in some ways, taken on renewed urgency in the wake of COVID-19. Facing a rocky road to economic recovery, policymakers and employers are in search of new strategies to not just get Americans back to work, but also ensure that the country’s workforce is prepared to navigate a volatile increasingly tech-driven economic landscape. The events of the past year have also cast a harsh light on the pervasive and painful equity gaps that have always been endemic in American society—and sparked new efforts to create paths to economic mobility for workers who face systemic barriers to advancement and opportunity.

Against that backdrop, the demand for tech skills continues to spread across a range of industries. It’s a shift that presents opportunities, as well as questions: What fields are seeing the greatest increase in demand for technology skills, and how can the needs of those fields be met? How do the perspectives of enterprise tech and talent leaders align with, and respond to, shifts in demand? How can a better understanding of what’s happening now help us understand what may happen in the future? 

But despite – or, perhaps, because of – all this attention, the actual term “digital skills” is not always clearly defined. And trying to pin down a more precise definition is not always a straightforward task. In fact, the most important question to answer may be a more fundamental one: what do we mean by “digital skills” in the first place, and how do those skills manifest in today’s complex and volatile labor market?

To begin to answer some of these questions, General Assembly and Emsi Burning Glass joined forces to develop the Digital Talent Forecast, which draws on our unique viewpoints into the real-time talent and skill needs faced by both employers and geographic regions at a time of economic change. The report incorporates original research from Emsi Burning Glass, as well as insights from General Assembly’s Standards Board members, to shed light on the present challenges and opportunities facing a labor market that is increasingly defined by digital skills.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of our findings:

  • Manufacturing is much more digital on an industry level than an occupational level, with 38% of all postings within the industry calling for at least one digital skill.


  • Marketing is fast becoming the frontier of digital skill/human skill hybrid work, with 100% of  postings mentioning at least one digital skill.


  • Data analysis is one of the most widely relevant skills across occupations, with 18% of all postings surveyed, and 60% of postings for business operations occupations calling for a skill related to data analytics

Business operations occupations

The full report is now available for download. To learn more about how digital technology is changing the future of work, contact Isaac Lopez (208-997-8013).