Career Fulfilment Coach and Founder of WhatWork.
There is a lot of talk about remote working these days, and indeed, it is a big topic. The pandemic has changed the way we work, have meetings and make decisions, as well as how we communicate and create connections with colleagues and clients. However, remote working is but one immediately obvious shift that has taken place recently and is likely here to stay. Looking at the bigger picture, remote working is just the tip of the iceberg.
From West To East
While manufacturing and labor-intensive jobs largely moved to Asia in the last couple of decades, recent trends indicate that highly skilled jobs are also migrating to Asia and out of Europe and the United States. A high level of education, multilingual skills, access to online learning and low cost of living have created a vast talent pool in Asian countries, ready to replace highly paid jobs in other parts of the world such as Australia, the U.S., Canada and Europe. Through remote working, the highly skilled and tech-literate Asian talent pool is rapidly becoming a top choice for many business owners who are concerned with cost and looking for competitive alternatives.
The Small Matter Of Collar, No-Collar Or New-Collar
It could be said that blue-collar job migration to China, India and southeast Asian countries has been replaced by white-collar job migration. However, the advent of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution has already transformed the very notion of blue-collar and white-collar jobs. Not to mention that besides being anachronistic when it comes to job descriptions and skills, these notions are also out of date when it comes to inclusion and diversity. White-collar workers, typically men in managerial roles, have undergone a transformation in their own right: Many of them wear no collars whatsoever because they may be women or men who no longer require a white shirt and a tie. The relaxed dress code has become apparent in recent years, and it has certainly been taken to a new level when everyone has been working from home and “homing from work.”
As a trained linguist and word enthusiast, I cannot help but be excited when I notice that some words or expressions are phased out and new ones replace them. So, do we now have “new-collar” jobs? What skills will they require? Some refer to new-collar workers as those who need both tech skills and soft skills and who may have been educated outside the traditional university system. They are most likely working in the technology sector or in the increasingly high-tech manufacturing sector populated by robots. New-collar jobs will thus require intellectual capability as well as specialist skills.
Soft Skills, Hard Skills And Everything In Between
Clearly the focus is on the combination of soft skills and technical skills. This is true not only for new-collar jobs but also for all those in traditional industries that are facing the pressure to reskill and upskill. Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum published the “Jobs of Tomorrow” report, which unsurprisingly identified roles in data and artificial intelligence, cloud and computer engineering, the care economy, sales, marketing and content, and, finally, people and culture.
While the adoption of new technologies is increasing the demand for specialist tech skills, data shows that soft skills are increasingly important because both digital and human factors are driving growth. According to a LinkedIn Skills report, 57% of senior leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills. The most sought after are:
• Time management.
Adapting To A Changing Market
If you want to continue to thrive in your career or a new one, the best advice would be to work on your soft skills while taking initiative to become fully tech literate and develop specialist skills where possible. According to the World Economic Forum, in 10 years’ time, 9 out of 10 jobs will require digital skills, and currently the most vulnerable employees are women, youth and low-skilled labor. The same article reveals that in the next decade, around half of existing jobs will be changed by automation, but only 5% of jobs will disappear. The World Economic Forum, therefore, suggests that new skills will be required for new jobs, particularly digital skills, yet a staggering 44% of Europeans aged 16 to 74 lack even basic digital skills. The rise in information and communication technology jobs will be such that by 2025, there will be millions of unfulfilled vacancies.
Urgent action for reskilling and upskilling is a must and initiatives by the World Economic Forum have brought together representatives from government, academia and business to collaborate in creating solutions to this problem. In his article on the economic and social footprint of the coronavirus, Rohit Talwar, CEO of Fast Future, states that it is exactly the fact that “individuals are having to take on new roles, tasks, and responsibilities at speed and learn to develop rapport with others who they may not previously have encountered or managed [that] is driving the demand for training in collaboration, cultural awareness, flexibility, adaptability, coping with chaos, and decision making under uncertainty.”
It is reassuring to see that in the United Kingdom, roughly 1 in 5 individuals currently not working due to the virus are using this time to research, plan and search for a new career or new industry. According to that study by Totaljobs, 70% of the people surveyed are more likely to consider working in a different sector. Overall, 50% of the entire U.K. workforce expects to change careers in the next two years.
Both employees and employers are starting to realize the value of transferable skills, and those who take the time now to upskill, research and execute a well-thought-out career strategy will likely benefit in the years to come.
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