WE SURVIVED THE PANDEMIC, NOW WHAT?
Since the end of 2019, the coronavirus pandemic has upended the lives of people all around the world. From hair salons to meat processing factories and restaurants, businesses across the entire economy saw their supply chains disrupted, drastic shifts in supply and demand, and government-mandated closures. To meet these challenges and stay afloat, businesses were forced to react in decisive yet agile ways. Unfortunately, not all organisations lived the same fate and soon enough, news headlines on business closures grew over time.
While it may be safe to say that we have survived the pandemic today, with rising vaccination rates and the lifting of the recent lockdown restrictions, businesses that are still operating today should be asking what does recovery look like? What are the insights that we can gather from the past 2 years to help us prepare better for the possibility of another crisis?
If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us about the realities of the workforce, it is that it can be a dangerously volatile territory. A single change can bring businesses down to their knees and leave millions unemployed. Many companies were simply not prepared to face the challenges of lockdowns. As we dissect further into the commonalities these challenges have in common, we identified a single game-changer that could either make or break your business: your talent.
In the past, talents were only required to work primarily with the skill sets or scope of work they had. Today, in order to survive downturns and potential layoffs, workers need to be ready to equip themselves with skills well beyond their day jobs.
Additionally, the pandemic has also created an urgency in rapid digital adoption. Disruptive technologies such as AI, blockchain and robotics now play a key role more than ever in supporting the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. With automation starting to drive productivity in major sectors in the economy, it is high time we reevaluate our talents’ skills and capacity to keep up with digital transformation. To sum up, the pivotal key in reviving the economy lies in the upskilling of our workforce.
Whilst the FirstWorks Training Academy has always believed in galvanising the economy through training and development, we are taking a step further this year by creating an additional program to help develop job seekers’ skills in conversational English. One of the disadvantages we face today is that only a fragment of our workforce is able to land opportunities overseas due to limited skills in conversing in English, despite displaying strong technical skills. Hence, we are reexamining our pipeline in conducting training in conversational English in collaboration with an established organisation in the UK. By doing so, job seekers can articulate and present themselves better in job interviews, further advancing their careers.
As for businesses, while many may associate productivity with scalability, that is often not the case. After experiencing challenges posed by the pandemic, it is important now more than ever to know how to drive the same volume of people but with greater efficiency, productivity and output, and subsequently to add more value to the business.
Again, the greatest component businesses have to look at is their talent. Besides the emphasis on workforce upskilling, we implore businesses to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, through the lens of higher education. Instead of producing graduates who require six to twelve months in the job to be work-ready, institutions of higher education need to reevaluate curriculums to train students who can be work-ready on the go.