People are living in a world of uncertainty now. A world where they neither know when the pandemic will be over nor what the post-pandemic world will look like. However, one thing is for sure. The post-pandemic world is unlikely to exactly resemble the past one.
The workplaces are already transforming with the increasing use of the Internet and a rise in remote work, among others. With this, job skills will need transformations too, in order to keep up with the altering dynamics and achieve career success in a post-pandemic world.
Ahmed Mostafa, an education consultant for the World Bank, emphasised adaptability the most in a conversation with the writer. He said, “The main skill that people must have right now is adaptability. Basic tech skills are a must now. Overall, due to the changing trends in the job market, keeping up to date with the required skills is mandatory, regardless of the effect of the pandemic.”
As can be seen, jobs are going to get soft-skill intensive along with a high demand for digital skills. The workplace was already evolving rapidly when the pandemic expedited it. It is crucial to be adaptable and flexible to keep up with these changes.
As Zarif Tazwar, an MBA student at IBA, DU, shared his opinion regarding the current job situations, adding that, it is highly required to master futuristic skills to stay relevant.
“Many of today’s demanding jobs are going to become repetitive, computerised, or worse completely obsolete one day. Individuals should possess a growth mindset with a generalist state of mind so that they are flexible enough to learn new job skills. The line between job descriptions of separate divisional posts has become blurry.”
Leadership, intelligence and innovation
With more remote work and accelerated use of machines, more people -- at all organisational levels -- are going to find themselves in a position where they will have to lead. Keep in mind, leadership skills are a culmination of strong communication, persuasive, problem-solving, and motivational skills. Moreover, the freelance gig economy is expected to keep growing and people will have to collaborate in more fluid teams, where different employees will assume leadership at different times.
And this leadership will require emotional intelligence- the capability to be aware of, control, and express emotions and be aware of other people’s emotions simultaneously. “Such individuals are more likely to inspire contemporaries towards collective excellence,” remarked Tazwar.
On the other hand, the pandemic has revealed how creativity and innovation drive success in the face of adversity. The crisis forced many businesses to figure out ways to creatively market and sell their products and services. For example, many healthcare providers have stepped up their digital health efforts through services like telemedicine.
In 2020, Praava Health, a burgeoning healthcare clinic, launched a Covid-19 webpage dedicated to raise awareness and provide healthcare guidelines incorporated with an online Covid-19 self-assessment tool and Facebook Chatbot. Pathao relaunched Pathao ‘Tong’ to provide on-demand essentials delivery service and introduced Pathao Pharma for users to purchase OTC medicine.
Critical thinking and negotiation skill
Critical thinking and problem-solving go hand in hand. Critical thinking ability permits individuals to ponder on information rationally and objectively evaluate them to solve problems.
“With a sharp increase in fake news and misinformation, critical thinking is a valuable resource for any aspiring job seeker. Organisations are always in search of critical thinkers and problem-solvers that have become even more vital now,” said Sumya Faiz, Senior Executive Officer at Bank Asia Limited.
With increasing costs and decreasing revenues, the pandemic has made businesses more competitive. That’s why Mrs Faiz believes, “Remarkable negotiation skills are likely to be held in high regard by companies, who are looking for people who can effectively bargain and cut costs. Expert negotiators can give companies a competitive advantage.”
Tech literacy is a must
The pandemic has accelerated the need for digital transformations the most. IT industry experts in Bangladesh claim that there is a high demand for tech-savvy human resources. According to Forbes, the application of technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and big data will arm businesses in the fight against future pandemics.
“Individuals equipped with tech skills can leverage them in a real environment and make companies more proactive and innovative,” remarked Tazwar. Bangladeshi companies have already begun investing in AI, big data, and augmented reality. Along with these, data literacy is becoming more important by the day.
Data literacy is a powerful skill imperative for efficiently forecasting the impact of future disruptions, and understanding and responding quickly to altering consumer needs and business trends.
Data science is an emerging sector in Bangladesh. There is a high demand for data analysts in the fields of business, finance, marketing, and more. Data literacy skills are now crucial for not only impressing recruiters but also securing significant progress in career.
However, digital transformations also raises the question of cybersecurity for businesses. With more data than ever circulating in the Internet, the demand for people skilled in fighting cybercriminals is likely to rise.
Again, according to Forbes, digital skills like web design and development, digital marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, and coding are going to become more and more important in the future. With the pandemic-influenced growth in their demand by offline businesses and the insurgence of e-commerce companies in Bangladesh, digital skills enhance an individual’s chances of succeeding in a high-paid career.
There is no age limit to learning. There are many online courses on topics like data science, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, web design, coding, emotional intelligence, and digital marketing that are offered by Bangladeshi platforms like Bohubrihi and 10 Minute School, and international ones like Coursera, Google, and Udemy. Students, especially, can leverage the lockdown to avail these courses and steer the future digital transformations.
Changes in the workplace and in consumer behaviour are here to stay. The workforce of our country needs to prepare to tackle future crises and master the technical skills increasingly demanded in a digital Bangladesh.
Maisha Fairooz Khan is a second-year undergraduate student at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. E-mail: [email protected].