I will like to dramatically compare the arrival of the COVID 19 pandemic to a sports man, who has an unfortunate accident whiles training that renders him paralyzed. Faced with this handicap, the sportsman can decide to throw his hands up in despair or develop certain essential skills to continue living a fulfilled life. We have many examples in the world of people who have been dealt with what many of us will call a bad hand and yet through hard work and a can do spirit, they are able to do much more than able bodied men. You only need to watch the Paralympic Games to see how others in this situation have been able to overcome. The operational word is OVERCOME. People born blind can overcome and learn to play musical instruments despite their physical challenges. In the same way we will probably not be the same again after this pandemic, but we can OVERCOME and develop skills that may very well catapult us to higher levels of achievement, despite our handicap or maybe, because of our situation.
The subject of the future of work is not a covid-19 phenomenon, it is one that has been under a lot of discussion over the years regarding which jobs will be created and which ones will be extinct in future. The COVID 19 pandemic has only catalyzed the incidence of that future and brought it closer to us. Last year our annual HR conference theme was agile work, creating the thought leadership in this regard; little did we know we were going to be plunged into practicing what we preached.
For example, one thing Covid-19 has done is to open the eyes of educators to teach without people physically sitting in classrooms. Wait a minute, that may not be totally accurate since as far back as 2007, “distance Learning”, which involved a lot of on line work, using the virtual “blackboard “started in our Universities in Ghana. In Chicago, distance learning started in 1892. What is phenomenal with COVID 19 is that all levels of education, be it primary, high school, and medical school all moved simultaneously to deliver education virtually. Now that we have a basis for comparison, it is anybody’s guess what will happen to the traditional way?
So what are the SKILLS UNDER THREAT AND what are the NEW OPPORTUNITIES?
The following skill sets are going to be in demand and helpful to succeed in a post-pandemic world
Social distancing and remote working is the new normal during and post covid-19 pandemic. The digital transformation in organizations is being fast-tracked by the pandemic and after things have settled down, many more businesses will realize that agile working, creates trust-based relationships, embraces innovation and places a value on people. Businesses cannot help but realize that Agile working, which focuses more on performance, is a more advantageous work model than the traditional way of working.
In this regard, workers who are adept at technology will be seen as valuable resources, particularly in the areas of database management, data literacy and analytics, application and software development, cyber security and cloud computing.
Students will need skills in Independent learning. Linked to that is the fact that learning is going to be largely possible with those who are comfortable with digital skills, apps, on line tools, virtual processes, and with writing exams on line, and so on.
Consumers are spending more time online and on social media more than ever as it remains the safest mode of entertainment. Businesses and brands have already recognized the importance of digital and social media marketing to increase their brand equity and sales.
People who have developed their online marketing skills will be sought after more by brands especially in the areas of digital content creation, platform management, personal online branding, influencer marketing and remote collaborations using video conferencing tools and social media platforms.
There will be more people needed at different levels in organizations to lead others in a world where remote working will continue. People with high leadership acumen to wield significant influence to encourage good work ethics and increase productivity among team members will be highly sought after.
It’s important, as a leader, to have critical thinking skills, be adaptable and flexible in your approach to work, be highly emotionally intelligent and be committed to learning always to improve upon oneself
Freelance and Consulting
As companies continue to tighten their belts to reduce expenditure, more will be looking at outsourcing works to skilled freelance workers and consultants to work on short term projects. Individuals who project themselves as such could find themselves with an upsurge of contract work post-pandemic, to provide services such as management consulting, training, headhunting, creative content development and sales.
Many jobs are likely to be lost due to a predicted downturn in global economy. As a result, there will be a surge in business enterprises as many people will be forced into entrepreneurship.
Different combinations of all of the above-mentioned skill-sets will spell success. Business opportunities in delivery services, social media management, influencer marketing, freelance platforms, application development, IT consulting, virtual training, etc. are good areas to look at moving forward.
To conclude, those days of the fear of IT are over if you are going to have a secure job. Not many jobs will be open for the liberal arts, am afraid. HR for instance will be largely electronic, outsourced etc. Finance and HR will be about data analytics.
In addition, candidates who are not able to adapt or be flexible will be challenged. Data analytics coding skills, automation and robotics will be the new sought after skills. Artificial intelligence is already defining the sales, and retail industry. Banks will have less of tellers and more of relationship bankers. Flexibility is key – the culture of us moving physically to the stadium has changed so has the culture of moving physically to the theatre. Even the way the workplace is organized is changing… hot desking is being practiced and teams may not be together and yet will need to work together productively as a lot more people will be working from home.
No university can now prepare people adequately for life after school by way of specialization. University education will become important for training the mind with the discipline that enables people to be able to self-tutor, because what one learns in the university will become demode/defunct in a few years. The University remains a spring board to broaden one’s mind, to launch into the world of work. The situation we are in will have people working from all kinds of jurisdictions – you may have someone living in Australia but working for a company in the U.S. What kind of tax laws will be required in this kind of situation? Will this require new skills? I beg the question.