We know that the Covid-19 crisis has transformed the world of work. It is therefore critical to know the specific skills today and tomorrow’s workers will require. What kind of jobs will be lost, as well as those that will be created, as automation, AI and robotics technologies mature.
At a high level there will be some skills that will become increasingly important and others that will decline. For example, the need for manual and physical skills, as well as basic knowledge-based ones will decline, but demand or technological, social and emotional, and higher order knowledge skills will grow. In a job market that is transforming; workers, employers and education sector need to think about skills in these areas - knowledge, digital, interpersonal, and self-leadership.
Skills and education
Workers who have higher levels of education (college degree) are better prepared for changes in the workplace. However, a higher level of education is not a silver bullet for all skills needed in the post-Covid world. For many skills within the self-leadership and interpersonal categories, such as self-confidence, coping with uncertainty, empathy, and resolving conflicts, a college degree is not enough. In some cases more education might even mean lower proficiency, humility being an example.
Employment in the post-Covid world values self-leadership, and more specifically, adaptability, coping with uncertainty, and the the ability to synthesise, as well as achievement orientation.
Work-plan development, asking the right questions, self-confidence, and organisational awareness are the new soft-skill areas that are critical to success in a post-Covid work setting
High income jobs will require competencies in understanding digital systems, software use and development, work planning and ways of working, and communication (especially on digital mediums). These are areas where a college education might give a head-start, but life-long learning is quite important for the workforce to stay relevant to the job market.
More specifically, work-plan development, asking the right questions, self-confidence, and organisational awareness are the new soft-skill areas that are critical to success in the post-Covid work setting.
The areas that I believe could lead to higher job morale are “self-motivation and wellness,” “coping with uncertainty,” and “self-confidence”. These areas are not offered as courses or programs taught by universities or even through workplace training. There is an urgent need to develop employees and job-aspirants to fill these skill gaps. The companies that invest in their employees to build these competencies will have a significant competitive advantage. The same holds true for universities to improve their graduate employability outcomes.
Self-leadership skills are critical for employment outcomes, yet these are not commonly covered by adult-training and education programs. This is an urgent gap to fill to adequately respond to the wave of unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well re-skilling the workforce for sustainability of the economic system. This responsibility must be borne by higher education and workforce training by governments and corporations.
For students and, job seekers and job holder alike, building self-leadership skills is critical to survive and thrive in the post-Covid world. A focus on careers that require higher knowledge skills – those that will benefit from AI, Robotics and automation and building a ‘learning ladder’ to acquire technical and soft-skills that are needed for the jobs of tomorrow should be an urgent priority. Invest in yourself - don’t wait for your employer or college to support – this is also a demonstration of self-leadership!
- The writer is Managing Director, IMEA, Edorbis DMCC