The Open University’s future trends predictor reveals list of most in-demand jobs anticipated for major growth over next five years

by jcp
Editorial & Advertiser disclosure
  • The Open University releases top 10 ‘hottest jobs’ list compiled through social media listening[i], including sustainability officer, cyber security penetration expert, digital content strategist and blockchain expert
  • Entrepreneurs including ex-British Lions Captain turned digital guru Sam Warburton MBE, A.I. specialist Priya Lakhani, OBE and global supermodel and sustainability campaigner Eunice Olumide, MBE and founder of Pleesecakes Joe Moruzzi are urging people to consider upskilling flexibly with The Open University as the UK jobs market swells in sustainability, business and cyber sectors

Business, sustainability and digital entrepreneurs have backed a new campaign from The Open University that highlights skills and jobs forecast to be of vital importance to the growth of the UK economy in the coming years.

Despite a hugely challenging year for many across the UK, The Open University had more course enrolments to its “OpenLearn” platform since the start of the pandemic – 3.1m[ii] enrolments – than it had in total for the 14 years previously (2.4 million). This appetite for change has been reinforced by recent findings generated by The Open University’s insights team with Yonder Consulting, which revealed 36% of UK adults are thinking of changing jobs or career in the next 12-18 months, increasing to 57.6% for young people aged 16-30.

Centring around the nationwide skills gap in management & business and computing & IT and against a backdrop of the climate crisis and sustainability, The Open University has enlisted the support of some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs. Each shares their view on where greatest demand lies to illuminate and inspire those looking to upskill and change career.

As part of the campaign, The Open University has released a video revealing an engaging panel discussion between the entrepreneurs who whittle down a long-list of the hottest jobs of the future. It is hoped that the final shortlist will help unleash ambition and give direction to people across the UK in shaping their own ambitions through continued learning and generate job opportunities.

Top jobs long-list for the future that people can upskill in now are:

  • Renewables Engineer
  • Machine Learning Expert
  • Cyber Security Penetration Tester
  • Blockchain Expert
  • AI Developer
  • Sustainability Officer
  • AI Analytics Engineer
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Protection Officer
  • Digital Content Strategist

From the long-list, the top 5 future jobs[iii] that The Open University’s panel of entrepreneurs believe will have the greatest need in plugging the skills gap are:

  1. Sustainability Officer
  2. AI Developer
  3. Digital Content Strategist
  4. Cyber Security Penetration Expert
  5. Renewables Engineer

The Open University has also been working to widen access to its OpenLearn platform to those looking for work since the pandemic, by partnering with Job Centre Plus and The Department for Work & Pensions. The ‘Open door to success’ partnership is designed to help people find a job, advance their career or grow their business, including a free cyber security course offered through STEM.

The short course, which pioneered new learning trends that allowed students to use gamification to pursue their learning routes, has been completed by 300 people since the pandemic, with 150 of those going on to further study or gaining employment in the sector.

Sam Warburton OBE, MStJ, Former British Lions Captain and digital education business founder, has shared his views on the type of roles that would be most useful to his business to meet the needs to the skills gap, including digital content strategists. He said: “We need people who can analyse data and create content to reach a much wider audience than we would have done so organically. Digital content strategist and data analysts are invaluable and help businesses reach wider audiences.”

Priya Lakhani, OBE, A.I. Specialist, Founder and CEO of CENTURY believes the key to adapting to future demand is being prepared to learn in an agile way and top up your skills over time: She added: “AI development and machine learning encompasses cyber security and these roles will help maintain Britain as number three in the world before USA and China. UK entrepreneurs are begging you to upskill in these areas, so if you have any of those skills, go for it!”

Simon Tindall, Head of Skills and Innovation at The Open University said: “What we’ve learned in the last year more than ever, is that with change can come opportunity. Amidst the uncertainty of the current UK workforce and barriers to upskilling, we’re keen to highlight through this campaign that there are many ways to pursue new and exciting paths that range from free short courses to degree level qualifications. While flexible working may be a new trend, we’ve been experts in flexible learning for more than 50 years.”

“At The Open University, we’re passionate about dedicating our time to help you stay ahead of the curve. The jobs of the near future start today and it’s easier to make the change than you think with flexible learning packages that can rapidly provide not just the skills you need but also instil confidence to peruse your goals. You can even study while in your current job and around other life commitments, it’s never been easier to shape the future of the UK’s economy and find your purpose in the next generation of in-demand jobs.”

For more information on short courses, certificates and degree courses on offer to study flexibly at The Open University, visit

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