One cannot help pondering our post-crisis reality and how the world will change after this pandemic. We couldn’t help but think about what our own professional world will resemble and more generally how the world of work will adapt…
We’ve highlighted a few aspects characterizing this contrasting subjective awareness.
More time at home for everyone
First off, this pandemic is not so much an isolated incident with a definite end-date. The current outbreak should be brought under some form of control by the end of the (European) summer, experts speculate. However there are bound to be more “after-shocks” to come with lockdowns in different cities/regions becoming the norm throughout 2020 and 2021. People will be expected to exercise social distancing regularly and religeously.
Reset of the global economy
We can already see that some businesses will not recover from this crisis so unemployment will increase in the short term. The retail sector analysts say that the current trade freeze is a nail to the coffin of the British high street – a famed retail epicentre. This crisis has already reshaped numerous sectors within a space of a month – everything from tourism or entertainment. The net-result of this economic shift is quite simply that some sectors will be changed beyond recognition. Others sadly will vanish altogether.
A new way to contribute to society
Due to the aforementioned global reset, some of us will face the dire reality of unemployment. Careers will collapse due to the vanishing of the demand for certain jobs. These people will require certain resources to survive and need to acquire different skills to exist in society. The onus will rest on governments and those who will be lucky enough to return to their pre-crisis jobs, to financially support these groups until they acquire the skills needed for their new reality.
Shift in skills demand
After a short period of readjustment, new businesses and business models will pop up to serve this new reality. Old competencies will be replaced by a demand for new skills. In his book, the “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” Yuval Noah Harari offers a good example – “the replacement of human pilots by drones has eliminated some jobs but created many new opportunities in maintenance, remote control, data analysis, and cybersecurity.”
Urgency of reskilling to survive
We can only speculate what those new jobs will be, but whatever these new vocations resemble, people will have to re-skill quickly to play their parts. Some will opt for an easy option and switch to jobs that don’t require extensive training e.g. from retail to warehouse jobs. The more realistic eventuality though will be that loads of people will see this imposed ‘crossroad’ as an opportunity for reinventing their career. Some might even opt for a completely new profession.
Lockdown to upskill
How much more appealing this career reinvention would be if we could be trained to become a skilled in a medical field in a fraction of the time. Also, how much more realistic it would be to pursue a new career dream if we could afford to have a break from earnings for a period of study. Across the globe, governments have committed to paying their citizens to stop working due to the fear of spreading the virus. This is already shifting our attitudes towards earning: “it is not a moral hazard to pay people without expecting work in return.” Dr. Lynette Nusbacher, a strategist and former government advisor argues that ‘Instead of individual value to the economy being calculated by how much they produce, it would be based on their consumption – the way in which they spend the money given to them by the government.’
If the lockdown time and the ‘lockdown money’ were spent on developing new skills desperately needed by the economy surely it would be a win-win for individuals and society.
Cure for the global pandemic of skills shortage
Shouldn’t we make this crisis a turning point and a reason for resetting our mindsets and economic mechanisms as Dr Nusbacher suggests? Coronavirus or not the job displacements and skills shortages have been looming since automation, digitalization and advancements in AI entered key industries such as Manufacturing, Healthcare or Financial sector. Thus, professional reinvention is more important than ever. A desire for a sustainable and fulfilling life in new reality will push us to reinvent our career thus we will have no choice but to start and never stop learning again.
Bottom line is that there has never been more urgency for lifelong education and for innovative ways of training people faster and more sustainably than now. Harari hopes that ‘if we manage to combine a universal economic safety net with a strong community and meaningful pursuits, losing out jobs to algorithms may actually turn out to be a blessing.”