No one will blame you for wanting a fresh start in 2021 after the trainwreck of a year we just had.

So if you are looking to re-train or upskill this year – or you simply want a change – what areas should you look toward?

Here’s some idea of what industry is demanding at the moment – and what it might want more of in the future.

1. Cloud engineers

Unless they’re trying to keep an alt-right social media platform online, there’s not a lot of good reason for organisations to build their own metal nowadays.

Ample cloud services are out there providing infrastructure to paying customers, but good engineers who can effectively integrate and modify platforms with existing systems are few and far between.

Jobs may be platform-specific with AWS and Microsoft Azure two of the most popular services and, while relevant certifications do cost money, you can often learn the fundamentals for free online.

2. Cyber security professionals

It’s been a rallying cry in the industry for years and doesn’t look like changing any time soon: we need more cyber security professionals.

Between devastating ransomware attacks, a warning that Australia was “under cyber attack”, and the startling revelations that came with the massive SolarWinds breach to top it all off, 2020 was a big year for cyber security.

Then there was COVID-19 becoming the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and proof-of-concept for global always-online lifestyles – so it’s hardly surprising that cyber security remains a top priority with security roles currently taking up nearly a quarter of all ICT searches on job site Seek.

Tech recruiter Hays specifically noticed a rising demand for ‘security awareness consultants’ who can help train workers – especially those still at home – on how to stay safe while conducting business online.

3. Full stack developers

You simply can’t get away with having no online presence these days which means the skills to build and maintain websites and applications are constantly in demand.

There’s a reason the world’s most popular programming language is Javascript – because it’s everywhere.

Combined with other languages like HTML and PHP – which was one of Indeed’s fasted growing tech skills of 2020 with an explosive 834 per cent growth in demand between January and September – and a knack for holding together databases, the ability to make front- and back-end web code is evergreen.

4. Data science and machine learning

Javascript may be the most well-known language on Earth but self-taught programmers have been flocking to Python – the unofficial language of data science and machine learning.

Late last year, we saw calls for an extra 3,000 data scientists to head to Western Australia alone as businesses scour the globe for the right people to turn mountains of data into valuable insights.

Data scientists aren’t just needed at home, though. British recruiter Engage Partnerships lists machine learning on as one of the most demanded tech skills in 2021 – specifically mentioning people proficient in TensorFlow, Python, Java, R, and the emergent technology of Natural Language Processing.

5. Quantum computing

There simply aren’t a lot people on Earth who know how quantum computers work let alone how to program them.

Australia’s top science body the CSIRO expects quantum technology to be a key part of the country’s tech sector in the coming decades and is pushing for more awareness of what it says will be a $4 billion industry.

And of the tech areas identified by US recruitment firm Burning Glass as ‘most disruptive’, quantum computing has by far the highest potential for growth in the coming years.

No, you aren’t going to find a lot of job advertisements related to quantum computing today, but the stage is set for this technology to take big strides soon.

If you want to give it a shot, IBM’s Quantum Experience lets you try your hand at coding quantum computers in the cloud.