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Post-lockdown: Jobs of the (near) future

Job roles such as front office executives at hotels, travel and tour operators, event managers, sports instructors and restaurant service staff are at risk.

Whenever the world changes its working patterns, argues Manish Kumar, MD & CEO of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), some jobs can be at risk, but many more get created. “The same will happen now, in a post-Covid-19 world,” he says. “Going forward, the key is constant reskilling and upskilling.” While there are reports that a section of the formal economy workforce may be at risk of losing livelihoods—and especially industries such as tourism, travel and hospitality are badly hit—all is not lost, it appears.

New job roles

Digital capabilities are going to be crucial in future job roles, says Narayanan Ramaswamy, national head, Education & Skill Development, KPMG in India. “Those jobs that don’t need a physical presence (or minimum physical presence) would be in demand. Analytics and related areas would see an uptick, and we will see more job roles created across industries. In the short term, health-related job roles will see more demand,” he says.

Krishna Kumar, CEO & founder of Simplilearn, the online certification training provider, says that jobs in areas of digital marketing, data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence will increase. “Full stack developer, scrum master, these are the kind of roles that will be much in demand,” he says.

As workplaces are rebooting and becoming smaller, the Covid-19 crisis is creating opportunities for roles catering to remote working, adds Divya Jain, founder & CEO of Safeducate, a skills training provider. “The localisation of supply chain in retail, travel, fashion, food and experiences will give a fillip to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, and drive the country’s small business owners to spearhead economic revival,” she says.

To fight the pandemic, the pharmaceuticals industry is pulling out all the stops. Jain adds this will lead to skilled job openings in the research, treatment and disease prevention space.

Siddharth Chaturvedi, EVP of the AISECT Group—which runs a skills university, among other things—expects significant increase in roles such as Covid marshals, sanitation managers, general duty assistants for office premises, telemedicine operators and the like. “In the digital domain, promising roles include cybersecurity experts, content creators, video editors, digital marketing executives, etc,” he says.

Reskilling and upskilling

The current crisis has forced us to rethink on skilling. Arjun Mohan, India CEO, upGrad, the online higher education platform, says that, today, anybody who wants to seriously learn is learning. upGrad recently launched the Free 101 Program initiative, where it is offering 10 upskilling programmes free of cost to college students and working professionals.

Similarly, Simplilearn has started the Campus Connect initiative, which offers free access to learning programmes for faculty and students across 200 Indian universities. NSDC has the e-Skill India e-learning aggregator platform—it consolidates B2C e-learning portals operating over the internet within the skilling ecosystem, enabling multiple e-learning players—strong in specific skilling sectors—to share their strengths.

“Hard and soft skills such as digital literacy, learnability, agile leadership, coding, fungibility and flexibility are what people should focus on,” says Rituparna Chakraborty of Teamlease. She adds that all kinds of profiles in healthcare would be in demand, as would be digital skills in areas of marketing, product development, sales, customer services, online education and e-workforce management.

“Certain job roles are at risk, too,” she says, “but that is a temporary risk. Any job that involves high touch would be at risk for the next 12 months for sure. All but those in healthcare, I suppose.” Ramaswamy adds that, in the short term, tourism could be badly hit, but it will definitely not go extinct. “Personalised, non-physical services—financial advisors, insurance brokers, coaching, counselling—will be replaced by online formats, and hence the current face-to-face models are at risk.” He also says that certain manufacturing jobs—those that cater to the industrial automation/mass production era—could become redundant in the near term. “These could be replaced with bots and self-learning machines.”

Job roles such as front office executives at hotels, travel and tour operators, event managers, sports instructors and restaurant service staff are at risk. These employees, Chaturvedi says, will need to reskill themselves. Going forward, it appears people may need to be multi-skilled, or skill-agnostic. “In addition to domain skills, complex problem solving, communication and teamwork will become very important,” says Kumar of NSDC. Jain agrees: “We will witness an increase in versatility of skills to perform different roles.”

Essentially—and we have known this all along—to thrive, and not just survive, employees will have to focus on both domain skills and foundational skills. How you are able to apply both of these to different settings will determine how you grow professionally.

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