The industries and jobs that continue to rise

The pandemic has impacted the world in far-reaching ways, including what looks likely to be permanent shifts in consumer behaviour and business needs. As a direct response to these changes, a range of industries and particular job roles began to rise in 2020 and continue to ascend in 2021.

The WaveTrackR Recruitment Trends: Lockdown Report found several such trends, backing LinkedIn’s Jobs on the Rise Report. Both reports found that Healthcare, Finance, Marketing, Advertising & PR, Customer Service, Education, Property, and AI grew during 2020.

We look at the skills needed, whether there’s potential for career pivots and how long these jobs are likely to be in the ascendant.


As people shielded, isolated or wanted to remain distanced from shops, online food shopping rocketed, growing by 107.8% in 2020 from 2019 according to Statista. With the closure of non-essential shops during lockdowns, department stores grew by an even greater amount – a 157.2% growth year on year. Retail as a whole may have been battered by covid-19 (WaveTrackR data found that Retail, Wholesale jobs fell by an enormous 573% over the course of 2020) but online retail soared.

To meet consumer demand, there was a hiring drive for a number of roles that support the e-commerce industry, from drivers to pickers, to warehouse leads. LinkedIn found that hiring for e-commerce roles grew by 143% between 2019 and 2020. Amazon cashed in on the high increase in online trade and hired an additional 10,000 workers over 2020. The high street was already struggling pre-2020 but covid increased its suffering and some of the big players have already folded, bought by online giants. Online retail certainly seems like an industry that will continue to boom for some time.


The pandemic put an enormous strain on the healthcare sector in every area. WaveTrackR data revealed the industry experienced a 63% growth in jobs across 2020 and an 88% growth in jobs in Public Sector, under which the NHS falls. LinkedIn has shown that the increase in jobs wasn’t just for frontline workers such as intensive care nurses, though at 113% growth for that role demand was clearly high. The race to develop vaccines saw a 68% growth for laboratory scientists and a huge 156% growth in medical laboratory assistant roles. 

Carers, too, were highly in demand, in part because so many had to periodically isolate. The LinkedIn report found a 104% growth in healthcare supporting staff roles. The psychological strain the pandemic has caused so many has seen demand for mental health services catapult, resulting in a jobs growth of 44% in the sector. As the impact on mental health is likely to be a lasting legacy of covid-19, this could be an ongoing trend.

Marketing, Advertising & PR

WaveTrackR’s report found that jobs in Marketing, Advertising & PR grew by 35% over 2020. This is in large part due to the rise of social media and digital marketing – LinkedIn revealed that jobs in this area grew by 52% in 2020. At a time when many companies slashed their budgets, roles such as growth hacker and growth specialist were increasingly advertised in order to grow users or customers for a little expenditure as possible. As a strategy often used in start-ups, this could also be linked to the surge in new company registrations in the second half of 2020, with the annual growth rate doubling from June. As the economy begins to recover and companies look to grow their brand in order to boost growth, these sorts of digital marketing roles will likely increase.


As the majority of finance roles can be worked remotely and financial services will always be needed, the Finance sector proved more resilient to the economic impacts of covid-19 than other industries. Jobs remained stable during the first half of 2020 and grew significantly in the latter half, with an overall jobs growth of 66%. LinkedIn found that Finance offered the most remote positions of all the growth industries, something to note given the huge demand for fully or part-remote jobs now. 

Customer Service

Customer service teams have been on the front line when it comes to managing customer expectations, queries and frustrations as working patterns and business models have been forced to change. Maintaining high levels of customer service has been crucial during the pandemic and as such some businesses have further invested in it. LinkedIn recorded a 54% growth in customer service roles for a huge range of businesses. The question is whether the growth in people-powered customer service will continue to grow or if businesses will increasingly look to AI options.


In the latter half of the year, as schools re-opened and teacher shortages were common due to staff isolating, Education was frequently amongst the industries both posting the highest number of jobs and receiving the highest number of applications. WaveTrackR data showed spikes in both applications and jobs from September, tailing off slightly at the end of the year but remaining far above pre-Covid 2020 figures. Reports are rife of record numbers making a career pivot into Education and jobs in the sector grew by 97% overall in 2020. LinkedIn also saw a high demand for tutors, perhaps to aid the teaching of children that were struggling with home learning. 


The Property market stalled in the first lockdown when restrictions meant it had to close but following the re-opening of the market in mid-May, Property became one of the few industries to boom. A combination of pent-up demand, the stamp duty holiday, a pandemic-induced reassessment of lifestyle choices including a desire for green spaces (and a shift in remote and hybrid working that would allow it), led to house prices soaring from May. This is reflected in the healthy jobs and applications stats post-May shown in the WaveTrackR report. Inevitably the market will slow down but experts aren’t predicting a crash. Jobs will likely stabilise but should continue to record healthy figures.

IT & Internet

As the first lockdown hit and businesses shifted to remote operation, demand for IT & Internet services and products skyrocketed and jobs in the sector boomed. The curtailing of projects began to hit the sector in the spring but picked up again in the summer. Rapid developments in technology has led to years of skills shortages in the sector but WaveTrackR data showed that applications have been high, perhaps as workers looking to pivot retrain to enter an industry with a big future. In the LinkedIn report, AI roles grew by 40%, with online retailers and social media companies making up the majority of hires.

As the economy continues to recover we should start to see other jobs rising but these industries highlight trends we are likely to see into the future, especially the need for candidates to have digital skills. We are moving at pace into an increasingly digital world and skills in that area are key.

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