In 2019, businesses favoured a range of marketing skills including performance, social media, mobile, as well as general ecommerce skills, a mix of training that had largely remained unchanged in previous years. 

As the pandemic hit in 2020, customer experience and e-commerce skills soared in popularity as businesses were forced to acquire new expertise in response to lockdowns.

A staggering 25 percent of training in 2020 was related to customer experience and ecommerce, falling to 8 percent in 2022.

This is according to Circus Street, the only specialist provider of online training in digital skills for global enterprises, who has released data that shows how skills training priorities for businesses have changed before, during and after the pandemic.

Circus Street, whose clients include Coca-Cola, Nike, GM, Pfizer, and Nestlé, looked at the most popular skills courses from 2019-2022.

2021 shows a clear shift to focus on digital transformation with 27 percent of courses taken focusing on these skills, up from 7 percent in 2020. Digital transformation training then drops to 13 percent in 2022 as data skills training has gained in popularity.

Data skills training is lacking

In 2019, just 9 percent of training was dedicated to data skills, before falling to 7 percent in 2021. However, at the end of 2022, four of the five most popular courses taken throughout the year were data related, accounting for 33 percent of all training. 2022 also saw renewed interest in agile project management training – up from 8 percent in 2021 to 14 percent in 2022.

Richard Townsend, CEO of QA – owners of Circus Street, said:

“This data tells a clear story of how the pandemic forced big businesses to rapidly change the skills they required within their businesses. Before the pandemic there was a much wider mix of skills being acquired, that varied slightly year to year. We then see lockdowns causing a huge surge in ecommerce training and then, as many businesses realised they had not adequately digitalised their operations, a real push to acquire more digital transformation skills.

“There’s no denying that data skills are now the most sought after expertise from businesses right across the world. In 2019 it accounted for a small percentage of training, now over a third of all courses are data related. Interestingly, many of the training priorities before the pandemic have not reemerged. Mobile and social marketing are no longer priorities, and skills such as SEO are also declining in popularity. This could indicate that the pandemic may have had a permanent impact on business priorities.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.