The International Labour Organization has forecast that the pandemic could reduce global working hours by nearly 7 percent in the second quarter of 2020—equivalent to 195 million full-time jobs. McKinsey’s analysis suggests that, in regions as diverse as Africa, Europe, and the United States, up to a third of the workforce is vulnerable to reduced income, furloughs, or layoffs as a result of the crisis. Many millions of jobs could be lost permanently and many have already been lost.
But many experts also expect the global economy to slowly revive. In most countries lockdown is now lifted and even the worst hit sectors like aviation and hospitality are now opening up. Further like a silver lining in the black clouds, the pandemic has also bolstered demands for digital skills and talent in sectors like health, pharmaceuticals, FMCG, and e-commerce.
It has become absolutely critical that talent leaders now invest their time and effort in identifying the critical roles, mapping the skill requirements, and preparing the workforce for the now and the future of work. Talent leaders would have to work along with the other stakeholders like the employees, the government, and other associations. The process starts with building on the broad views of the sectors, functions, and occupations at risk. Most importantly, focusing on the skills that have become more relevant amid the pandemic.
Skills in demand
“The pandemic has accelerated the need for 21st century literacies. Tech skills such as AI, ML, XR and cloud computing will continue to be in demand in the next decade, however, being effective remote workers possessing creativity, influence, storytelling skills and the ability to synthesize digital content will become key differentiators for young talent,” says Sumeet Moghe, Principal Consultant, ThoughtWorks.
The coming years will be quite interesting for the job market. One one hand, we’ll welcome the digital natives born in this century. On the other hand, as we emerge from this downturn, low skill jobs will give way to higher skill jobs in a highly distributed environment. And, that’s going to drive a massive mismatch in demand-supply.
New entrants to the job market, only familiar with commodity skills, could become obsolete at a very early stage in their careers. For example, it’s not enough to just be a full stack programmer.
“One needs exposure to multiple new technologies while demonstrating the ability to work collaboratively and remotely. To that end, industry, government and academia need to partner up to ensure the next generation has real world experience in relevant tech and soft skills, well before they hit the job market,” added Moghe.