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The Modern Workforce Needs a Game Plan to Survive and Thrive

Rashmi Verma Big Thinks Contributor and Gandhi quote: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

The fourth industrial revolution catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the future of work. Its rapid pace challenges our resilience and endurance.

  • Sciencedirect compares the magnitude of the current disruptions with World War II.
  • A McKinsey report states that up to 25% more workers than the estimated pre-pandemic will need to switch occupations to stay employed.
  • The World Economic Forum outlines that “50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases.”

To ensure success in this dynamic environment, corporations worldwide are undergoing accelerated workforce transformation, redefining their talent assessments, deployments, promotions, and retention strategies. As members of the global workforce, we need a game plan to survive and thrive in this new world.

We Need to Understand the Changing Ecosystem

Umesh Shiknis VP- Head of Sales, Capgemini says, "In today's world, it is amazing to see a Digital art (Beelple JPG File) sell for $69 million. We need to unlearn what we have learned over the years about customer preferences and job qualifications. We need to stay laser-focused on understanding the customer behavior trends and build the talent pipeline that meets our customer's needs."

Companies are more customer-focused than ever. In a competitive global market, delivering high-quality dynamic and customized services and products is expected.

Umesh Shiknis, VP- Head of Sales, Capgemini shares, “In today’s world, it is amazing to see a Digital art (Beelple JPG File) sell for $69 million. We need to unlearn what we have learned over the years about customer preferences and job qualifications. We need to stay laser-focused on understanding the customer behavior trends and build the talent pipeline that meets our customer’s needs.”

Another major change is Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. Workforce. Their flexible, independent, diverse, empathetic, and ecofriendly work environment preferences are some of the top influencers in the current workforce transformation.

Furthermore, technology evolution, globalization, and blurring digital gap continue to raise customers’ expectations higher, creating an incredibly competitive job market for highly skilled people. Online buying, secured connectivity, healthy living, social cause, contactless healthcare, and contactless payments are becoming mainstream. Hi-tech jobs that support these trends are expected to grow in number.

Low-wage jobs, especially in travel, store retail, and hospitality, may never come back due to pandemic-imposed permanent decline in these industries. Field jobs at farms and construction sites may remain static. More than half of the displaced low-wage workers may need to shift to occupations in higher wage income brackets requiring different skills to remain relevant and employed.

Corporations Need to Create a Culture of Learning

The job hiring process should consider the candidate’s skills match, potential, and learning abilities more than prior experiences and other credentials. Corporations should promote upwardly mobile career paths for their workforce. And should invest in easy-to-use training platforms. Learning should become part of the corporate culture and a metric in employee performance evaluations. A strong workforce is essential for company performance and growth.

Vicky Abhishek, APAC CTO of Coca Cola suggests, “In this economy, it’s important for us to understand the forces that drive changes in technology, customer behavior, regulations, competitor’s actions, sourcing, and suppliers. This will help us develop skills that are transferrable across the entities.” With automation, technology advancements, and changing customer behavior, the future workforce is expected to be a human-machine hybrid, requiring relevant hybrid skillsets.

Vicky Abhishek APAC CTO of Coca Cola saya,"Leaders should lead by example. Just like continuous process improvement, continuous deployment, and delivery, leaders should promote a culture of continuous learning."

Leaders Need to Lead by Example

Leaders should guide the workforce in building a progressive career development plan.  They should evangelize the need for building transferrable skills to stay employable.

Vicky Abhishek says, “Leaders should lead by example. Just like continuous process improvement, continuous deployment, and delivery, leaders should promote a culture of continuous learning.”

Educational Institutions Need to Focus on Industry Relevancy

Colleges should constantly revisit their courses and programs for industry relevance. They should incorporate on-job learning and promote apprenticeship programs to pair students with industry workers to expand their knowledge while completing real-life work and problem-solving. Also, colleges should continue to collaborate globally with other learning institutions and companies to help build the industry-relevant global talent pipeline.

Government Need to Prioritize Funding Reskilling

The World Economic Forum reports that “Wide-scale investment in upskilling has the potential to boost GDP by $6.5 trillion by 2030. In addition, upskilling could lead to the net creation of 5.3 million new jobs by 2030.” The government should prioritize funding for upskilling in the national recovery plans and redirect technology innovation into a more labor-friendly direction to create opportunities rather than taking away jobs.

We Each Need to Take Charge of Our Careers

Connie Chiasson National Account Executive Hays Staffing says, "Workers should seek a mentor's guidance to get the bigger picture. There are so many resources out there that they can leverage to upskill, reskill, and specialize."

We must take charge of our own careers. As generalists or specialists, whatever we choose to do, we should always have a roadmap of what, why, how to stay relevant. Connie Chiasson, National Account Executive from Hays Staffing, suggests, “Workers should seek a mentor’s guidance to get the bigger picture. There are so many resources out there that they can leverage to upskill, reskill, and specialize.”

Fortunately, online learning and higher education are now more accessible than ever. MOOCs offer free professional courses. Harvard, MIT, and many other colleges, in collaboration with Edex, offer online professional short courses. Lynda, Udemy, and Coursera offer a wide range of paid online courses and certificates. At the same time, trade colleges provide hands-on training for construction, engineering, and technical work.

Vicky Abhishek suggests, “Keeping ourselves relevant is our own responsibility, just like our own health and well-being. No matter how busy we are, we should always make time for self-development.”

Leaders and influencers must support worker mobility and create opportunities for reskilled workers. Human Resource Leaders must pivot from deploying human resources to leveraging human potential. Our careers must become a never-ending educational journey for us to remain relevant.

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