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GM's Mary Barra: What to study if you want a high-paying job in the future

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors.
Katie Kramer | CNBC
Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has been working to overhaul the company, which employs more than 200,000 people, since taking the helm in 2014.

In engineering changes to the company's culture and revamping its approach to technology, she developed some strong opinions on what will power the GM's success in the future. A key takeaway? Software engineering and math skills are only going to become more valuable.

In an interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Barra says coding is a skill that will continue to be in-demand to employers.

She calls coding a "core skill," and says that it will be "necessary in every industry."

The CEO encouraged young people to invest in expanding their knowledge of math and science, a suggestion Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has also made.

Skills like mobile app development, software engineering and Java development, are among the 10 most in-demand skills today, according to a 2017 LinkedIn survey that monitored recruiting activity on the platform.

"While some skills expire every couple of years, our data strongly suggests that tech skills will still be needed for years to come in every industry," LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher writes in the report.

Software and computer-related roles are among the highest-paying jobs in the country, providing salaries that range between $80,000 to $100,000, cash bonuses and other perks.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Getty Images
General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

By 2020, it's expected there will be 1.4 million jobs available worldwide in computing-related fields, according to research done by the nonprofit Girls Who Code, which encourages young women to explore tech careers. GM recently gave $250,000 to the organization to expand the courses and programs they offer young women.

Tech jobs "are high impact. You really make a difference in the world," Sandberg says in a recent interview with philanthropist and former software engineer Melinda Gates. "They're often incredibly flexible, and they offer great salaries, great benefits."

"I think it's so important," Barra says, "to have the skills of the future."

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