Whether we like it or not, our work environment has changed and will continue changing at a rapid pace. Therefore, both people and businesses need to focus on how to upskill and/or reskill for the new post-Covid 4IR working environment.
As the world continues to adapt to the new norm of remote working in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the workplace is also evolving at a rapid rate as a consequence of the technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – and it has been doing so for some time.
As far back as 2016, the World Economic Forum was discussing the skills necessary to survive and thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They compared the most sought after skills in 2015 to what would be the most sought after in 2020.
“Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes,” writes Alex Gray.
“Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as humans (yet).”
And while the nature of changes in industries will be dependent on each individual industry (the media, for example, has already undergone massive changes), change waits for nobody. Covid-19 has forced workplaces to adapt to remote working environments and the world is starting to see the value in remote work in ways that it didn’t before.
And there will eventually come a time where we simply cannot compete with AI, RPA, 3D printing and other technologies that could end up making our current skills redundant. However, while we still have the competitive advantage over machines, we can still upskill in ways that will help us succeed in our working environments in the medium term and to adapt to new jobs in the long-term.
Writing for BizCommunity, Lerato Matabola says “remote working was becoming more popular before the pandemic, but the crisis has now shown that virtual working is here to stay and has more benefits for a business than previously recognised. Reskilling can therefore assist in aligning closely with the general move towards a virtual environment.”
McKinsey has forecasted that over 30% of the global population will either have to reskill or change jobs entirely by the year 2030, Matabola explains, and they are suggesting a three-stepped approach for businesses to use:
- Identify the skills gaps between the current status, and what will be needed in the new digital future.
- Look at how work will need to change for the digital future.
- Plan how to implement training at scale, focusing not just on the training itself but on how internal policies and practices will have to be changed.
“In the new virtually driven business environment, critical soft skills need to be developed, including problem-solving and emotional intelligence,” she continues, before explaining that we need to work on the following when we upskill for the post-Covid 4IR world:
In the modern working environment, where so many tasks can be taken care of by simple cloud software applications, having the ability to think critically will give any individual or organisation a competitive advantage. Outside-of-the-box thinking will be required to solve complex business problems.
“In terms of reskilling to improve problem-solving abilities, organisations can look at creative thinking exercises, research courses, risk management courses and teamwork dynamic coaching,” Matabola says.
Successful teams in the post-Covid 4IR setting will require an effort to upskill team members by helping them control of their emotions, identify and manage them. This allows team members to work with each other without unnecessary conflicts and to be able to recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Emotional intelligence can be upskilled through team assessment, improved collaboration exercises and stress management activities/courses.
Tech skills for concentrated reskilling include security and data protection, digital transformation, cloud computing, data science and robotic process automation.”
Security and data protection
The problem with security changing is that changes to software are continual, making traditional training methods inapplicable. As we move into our remote work environments, especially when we use e-commerce systems and cloud computing software, cyber-criminals are a constant threat. Workers need to familiarise themselves with software and company security protocols are necessary. An employee with even an intermediary understanding of cybersecurity will always be valuable to organisations who have to deal with the ever-present threat of corporate espionage.
“Businesses need to invest more in security-focused training and constant trend researching to stay one step ahead. Additionally, as the status quo is disrupted and more employees are be required to work with technologies they are not familiar with, security risks become more problematic,” Matabola concludes.
So if you’re a millennial still familiarising yourself with the modern work environment, don’t get too comfortable! Before you know it, your skills could be outdated. However, if you can place some extra emphasis on your soft skills, you’ll be able to keep up with the rapidly changing post-Covid 4IR workspace.
The Essential Millennial places a strong focus on how millennials can adapt to a new digital workspace and we have plenty of tips for the modern worker in our work section. Check it out for more articles like these.