Up-skilling and re-skilling for a post-COVID world

By August 13, 2020 No Comments

The UN identifies COVID-19 as the defining global health crisis of our time.[1] Nothing else in our lifetimes has had such a significant impact on where and how – and even if – we work.

The exceptional measures taken to contain COVID-19 have had a major negative effect on economic activity, in Australia and globally. Australia entered its first recession – or period of economic downturn – in nearly three decades.[2] Overnight, we transitioned to working from home or in drastically downsized workplaces. Many of us stopped working altogether: Australia’s unemployment is 7.4% in July,[3] and it may be as high as 8.9% by December.[4]

Even without COVID-19, the government projects “profound changes” for Australia’s labour market in the near future.[5] This is predominately due to our increasing reliance on technology and automation. In the coming years, many skills will become redundant, with workers vulnerable to unemployment, poor skills utilisation and lower incomes.

Updating your existing skillset (‘up-skilling’), and developing new skills (‘re-skilling’), are vital during these times. They can improve your capacity to weather the recession and cope with the ‘new normal’. They can make you stand out in increasingly-competitive workforces and rapidly-changing workplaces. They can help you to prepare for the uncertainties – and the opportunities – that will be key features of the post-COVID world. 

The Harvard Business Review says: Under normal conditions, workers constantly shift between different industries, albeit at a slow pace. However, the COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent need to make labour shifts happen much more quickly.”[6]

The most in-demand skills in a post-COVD workplace in Australia will include:[7]

  • ‘Hard’ skills, which relate to specific technical knowledge:
    • Technology  skills, including blockchain, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, UX design, scientific computing and video production
    • Analytical reasoning, business analysis, affiliate marketing and sales
  • ‘Soft’ skills, which relate to interpersonal skills:
    • Creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence

The Australian government also identifies skills shortages in areas where formal qualifications are required: including accountancy, agriculture, the automotive trades, the building professions, child care, construction, electrotechnology, engineering, the food trades, health and social assistance, mining, teaching and telecommunications.[8]

Also think about skills which are consistently in demand across a variety of industries: including producing business documents, innovation, customer service, managing customer complaints, online purchasing, workplace coaching, staff recruitment, organising and managing meetings, managing staff remotely, project management and communication.

When up-skilling and re-skilling, consider the following:

  • Start with short-term study in the form of short courses. Our world is very uncertain, and committing to long-term study – especially in the rapidly-reforming higher education sector[9] – can be risky. Short courses rapidly provide you with essential skills and knowledge, so that you are prepared to meet current workplace demands. They can also provide a gentle introduction to study if you have not studied recently
  • Focus on flexible study options. It is likely that the COVID lockdowns have resulted in a range of additional commitments and stressors in your life; alternatively, you might find you have significantly more time on your hands than you normally would. If you enrol in a flexible course, you can study to suit your current lifestyle. This includes self-pacing your assessment according to the time you have available
  • Prioritise online study options. The COVID lockdown has limited options for face-to-face study. But more than this, we now conduct much of our lives – including work and socialising – online. Studying online can help you do develop competence and confidence in the online world and with a variety of new technologies and software
  • Look for low-cost courses. The recession may have created financial strain, and even if not the uncertain economic situation makes it wise to save where you can. Low-cost courses provide essential knowledge and skills at a fair, affordable price

COVID-19 has resulted in a variety of challenges – but also many opportunities – for workers in all industries in Australia. Are you prepared for the ‘new normal’ of a post-COVID world?

EYF Online PD has a range of online short courses to support you to up-skill and re-skill. To find a course which suits your interests and needs, enquire or enrol, click HERE.

Written by Laura McCosker
Resource Developer – Enhance Your Future

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