How COVID-19 Changed the Workplace

Throughout the pandemic, we observed many changes to our everyday lives and processes. Our workplaces and homes became one and the same, fueling the need to adapt to technology overnight. Your house also became the school, where bedrooms and classrooms were alike, and virtual learning was often a struggle from more than just a technological standpoint. Even the way we interacted and utilized essential goods and services changed drastically. Companies like Instacart and GrubHub saw a surge in business as many people tried to shelter in place. The food delivery business recognized this need for service and encouraged others, such as Wal-Mart, to offer their delivery services to balance the competition. The increase in demand also led to a rise in those knowledgeable enough to implement such apps and tech services. With food and grocery being digitally transformed, almost every other facet of our lives did, too. In some ways, efficiency was found and lifted strain on employees through automation. Some companies noticed the uptick in work progress when employees worked remotely and have continued to allow working from home permanently. Healthcare began to revolutionize and offer more virtual services like scheduling, viewing your chart history on an app, and even having mild illness appointments virtually. All these changes were driven by technology, whose backbone is known as STEM. The National Science Foundation states that “more adults will require re-tooling and upskilling to continue their participation in the workforce of the future.”  The focus on STEM-related upskilling and its importance in the workforce drive significant changes in our job market.

Businesses and their employees who were willing to adapt were more likely to survive in a pandemic market. For those that were unable to make the digital transformation, they suffered detrimental effects, some permanent. Businesses we loved close their doors, restaurants shut down, and our jobs either laid-off employees or gave them the option to work remotely. The International Labour Organization reports, “The equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs have been lost globally since COVID-19 hit.” This resulted in a massive shift for employers and employees alike. Suddenly, jobs were requiring a technical angle using Zoom and other meeting platforms. Employees were forced to adapt quickly to these unexpected changes. Some companies automated certain aspects of business using artificial intelligence. Navigating remote meetings held many struggles, some of which were humorous, such as accidentally enabling filters that turned our CEOs into cats during staff meetings.

People everywhere used their time at home, whether working remotely or not working at all, by upskilling themselves to re-enter the job market. Some skills were required to keep jobs as well. A sharp uptake in online classes showed many of us are interested in career development, specifically related to technology. Accenture finds that “one in three low-income American workers, if provided with access to training for new skills, have the potential to access higher income occupations that are forecasted to grow in the future.” With everyone gaining new skills, the job market has become quite competitive.  

Fortunately, some companies are trying to close the skills gap in their workforce by providing internal training programs. For those without this option, you might be asking yourself, “What does someone in my situation do to upskill?”

Futurelink has always been dedicated to closing all gaps related to STEAM fields. With career development being prominent and essential in today’s job market, there is no better time than the present to add to your skillset. We offer courses to help meet your career goals and boost your skillset quickly and effectively. While there are many skills you can acquire, Indeed ranks some of these in their top 20 emerging workforce skills in high demand.

            SOFT SKILLS

Soft skills are traits that make you valuable on the job. Some of these skills are leadership, collaboration, people and time management, adaptability, and creativity. Start by identifying your best qualities and see how you can add them to your resume to showcase what kind of employee you are. Working with others and adaptability ranks high on the list due to the shift in technology and office environment to working remotely. Employers want someone familiar with these operations and can collaborate with others at a high level since you aren’t meeting face-to-face.

            HARD SKILLS

Hard skills are any education or on-the-job training you’ve acquired. These skills can vary from field to field. Still, considering the changes to our traditional work environment and how we utilize services, we will focus on those surrounding technology.

Cloud computing is a rising star in the world of storage, development, and virtualization. Developers and artificial intelligence teams use containers to store and create programs. Companies use storage and databases to chart sales trends and meet compliance standards. You name it, and the cloud is your answer. Familiarizing yourself with this technology is an excellent way to enter the IT world.

Some computer-based hard skills besides cloud include learning a programming language. While there are many, some of the highest turnover languages are Python, Java Script, and some web design elements such as CSS and HTML. Think of all the websites we have today, and you’ll see how important this skill can be.  

Other hard skills to learn for virtually any career, primarily revolving around customer-facing operations, is Microsoft Office Suite. Most of us have some familiarity with Outlook and maybe Word, but these, along with Excel and Project, are crucial to surviving in today’s corporate and virtual world. Skill up here, and you may even increase your worth at your present place of employment. Project management is also becoming a skill employers seek. Drafting timelines with measurable progression points is essential to developing any application or other project a company may undertake.

Many new technologies are emerging that pose as a potential point of entrance to a new career. For example, if you have decent writing skills, you can try out the world of digital journalism. Are you a great marketer looking to add a tech angle? Check out SEO/SEM Marketing and see if you have what it takes! Are you more technologically savvy? Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and mobile apps offer many ways to break into the field. Ready to get started? There are many other in-demand skills to choose from, offering foundational skills needed in virtually every job. We recommend getting started with these if you haven’t already:

The best part? We offer specialized career development workshops and courses for adults, along with direct career counseling. Take our Career Assessment now and start curating a better tomorrow.

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