The way in which we work has been changing since the millennium with many previously popular careers and skills already becoming redundant, but this steady transformation has been accelerated by Covid-19 and millions now face very uncertain futures and even unemployment.
“Back in 2017, an analysis from McKinsey Global Institute already estimated that in the coming years up to 14 percent of the global workforce will need to be entirely reskilled and around 40 percent partially reskilled in order to continue with their present occupations,” says Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.
However, with the onset of Covid-19, only a handful of industries like technology, cybersecurity and healthcare continued to experience growth during the crisis, whilst some jobs that were in high demand have all but disappeared virtually overnight.
“We are already starting to see the emergence of new positions in the marketplace, some of them very unique like Bud Light’s recent search for its first ‘Chief Meme Officer’ to help promote Bud Light's line of hard seltzers.
“People across most sectors must now work out how they can adapt their current skillset to rapidly changing conditions, and companies in turn have to learn how to match their workers to new roles and activities.
“Adaptability has been catapulted from an emergent to a key watch word for this decade and, in order to embrace it, we need to understand that it is both a capability and an attitude.
“We cannot continue to think the same way and expect different results; we have to think differently in order to see opportunities rather than obstacles and the unknown.”
Geffen advises that everyone, even those working in sectors that have remained critical throughout the crisis, should take the time to consider the future of their chosen fields:
- Identify the skills that are critical to your industry/business recovery/career future - Companies and individuals need to decide on strategies that will shore up their future business by identifying the elements that have significantly changed and mapping out which skill pools are required to drive it forward. What shifts in activities, behaviour and skills are needed? Is a completely new skill set required to meet demand and customer expectations?
- Formulate how best to meet these new needs – Restructure, upskill and communicate. If necessary, shuffle staff around and establish new departments whilst shutting others. Always remain transparent and in communication with staff. Uncertainty has never brought out the best in anyone. There are now many reputable online degree and certificate programmes that can be accessed entirely online and not only are many very affordable, some are also free.
“Although we have all been aware of the major shifts precipitated by technology in recent years, for many the adaptation has been slower, depending on needs. So the pandemic has been a rude awakening in many ways, one which has inexorably rocked our comfort zones and, in some cases, obliterated years of hard work.
“The future is inescapably and unavoidably now and, as Darwin said all those years ago, it’s not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those most adaptable to change.”
In order to best adapt, says Geffen, we need to cultivate the following:
- Creativity and innovation - We have already witnessed the importance of creativity and innovation during the pandemic, with many businesses adapting their products or services to better suit the market. Some people are having to completely reinvent themselves.
- In a post-coronavirus world, human ingenuity will be essential for creating new ways of working efficiently as well as delivering new complementary products and services.
- Tech savviness - We’re all going to have to up our tech game to stay ahead – it’s no longer a choice, especially if one wants to become more resilient to future outbreaks and disruptions. Whether you work on a factory floor or in an accounting office, being at least comfortable with modern tech tools will become essential to being able to work effectively and competitively.
- Literacy in analytics and data insights - The ability to extract and use insights from analytics tools will become increasingly important for everyone, not just tech professionals. Workers who can understand raw insights as well as being able to apply their individual skillsets to these analytics will make better, faster and more informed business decisions and will be better positioned to maintain their competitive edge.
- Ongoing education and learning - According to the World Economic Forum, in just five years, 35 percent of the skills deemed essential today will change and, in an increasingly tight job market, those with advanced and expert job skills will get first pick of the better jobs. Fortunately, these days one doesn’t have to sign up for years of study to learn something new as there are many comprehensive short courses, often online, that will help to improve skills.
- Critical thinking – This is “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement” and, after so much misinformation and conflicting data during the crisis, those who can objectively evaluate information from diverse sources to determine what is credible will be valued.
- Leadership - What’s considered “normal” after the pandemic is likely to look very different from what we were used to before it began and in the uncertain times ahead, leadership will be a highly sought-after commodity. Professionals who can inspire, empower, and maximise the output of a team through clarity and confidence amid fluctuating circumstances will be in high demand.
Geffen concludes: “Whilst experience remains invaluable in achieving growth and success, we cannot look to the past for ideas and solutions to get through the pandemic and out of this economic downturn.
“Mahatma Gandhi said that the future depends on what you do today, and in these unprecedented times, this succinct advice should be taken to heart.”