Job Market and Jobs of the Future

A recent report compiled by the American management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company, suggests that around 12 percent of the population in eight countries, including India, may need to switch jobs by the end of the decade. The report cites that COVID-19 has pushed faster technology adoption and hence, ‘the scale and nature of workforce transitions required in the years ahead will be challenging.’ A pre-pandemic survey had suggested that 6 percent of the population in few countries including India would need to reskill and find other career options but the figure has shot up to 12 percent in the wake of increased reliance on technology due to the pandemic.

Pandemic has created a sense of professional uncertainty and anxiety amongst Indian professionals as the job market continues to be volatile in 2021 too. As per the Jobs on the Rise 2021 list released by LinkedIn early this year, finance roles, education roles, freelance content creators, social media and digital marketing roles, artificial intelligence roles, data science roles, healthcare roles and human resources roles are expected to gain popularity in the job market this year. We have seen a paradigm shift of sorts in the job market since the onset of COVID. It will be no exaggeration to state that 2020 was more or less a dreadful year with job losses across the world. Though work from home began to gain steam last year, few sectors barely managed to cope with this style of working because of their sheer nature of work. IT for instance accelerated the move towards digitization while retail and agriculture continued to work on ground for obvious reasons.

The digitization has certainly impacted the IT space as experts believe that we are going to witness technologies like AI, machine learning, blockchain, data analytics gaining importance. In July 2020 a global survey of over 800 senior executives was conducted by Mckinsey about the future of work. Two-thirds of the respondents said that they were stepping up investment in automation and AI either somewhat or significantly. Furthermore, this report unravelled some interesting observations. The most significant one being that jobs in work arenas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic, triggering knock-on effects in other work arenas as business. During the pandemic, the virus most severely disturbed arenas with the highest overall physical proximity scores: medical care, personal care, on-site customer service, and leisure and travel.

As we move forward, experts believe that focus should be more on building skills for jobs that are in growing industries, such as healthcare, tech, engineering, science, and logistics. Human resources and the staffing industry per se will continue to thrive in the post covid times too. Though hiring will continue, the skills required by the company are evolving at a rapid pace. The good news is that there will also be high growth in jobs that require socio-emotional skills, such as negotiation, influencing, and decision-making and we may probably see new positions emerging because of COVID-19, such as remote-work coordinators. As mentioned, hiring will also change as companies have already started focussing on skill assessments rather than educational qualifications and designations. HR companies are choosing candidates with skills associated with the jobs instead of previous job roles or titles.

If you think technical skills are more valued at workplace than people skills, you are sadly mistaken. When we speak about jobs for the future, it’s the behavioural skills that will matter the most. Technical skills can be acquired easily but imbibing soft skills or power skills takes a lot of time and effort. Philip J Hanlon, President of Dartmouth University and the man who coined the term Power skills justifies the name by saying that these are hard-won skills which are indeed powerful.

A Harvard, Boston University and University of Michigan study showed that training on power skills that included problem solving, self-awareness and interpersonal communication produced real results on metrics such as productivity and retention. With the job scenario changing rapidly since the pre covid times, it’s become a pre requisite to develop soft skills or more aptly called power skills to succeed at work. As per our internal observation of our employees and candidates alike, we have come up with 4 power skills that companies will look at while hiring:

  1. Curiosity & Critical Thinking- Curiosity is no longer a trait which can be attributed only to children. In fact, the new age corporate set up prefer to hire people who have the power of exploration. When we are curious about things, we think deeply and perhaps logically too. Curious minds gradually mature into critical thinkers. Critical thinkers are basically problem solvers or someone who have the ability to reason, which is a trait that is unique to humans and not machines who can merely produce and interpret data. So critical thinkers definitely have a competitive advantage

 

  1. Good Communication-An employee with a good communication skill can express his thoughts in a lucid way, can engage his listeners and ultimately drive business success. If your communication skills are excellent, it can foster strong relationship with clients and team members. The gift of the gab if used in a measured is an effective toll to mitigate crisis or conflicts. Good communication skills should become an inherent trait of every employee for not only increasing business productivity but as an important skill for effective human interactions.

 

  1. Decision Making-People at the helm should undoubtedly possess this important skill however decision making is no longer a trait restricted to the top management of a company. According to the principles of management, decision making is about selecting the best of all possible alternatives. In fact, all employees have to make decisions, be it big or small. For instance, a recruiting manager must have the knowledge or ability to pick the right candidate for a particular role. This also involves a keen observation power and astuteness, which is one of the key skills a good decision maker should possess.

 

  1. Emotional Intelligence- Like all other power skills, this can be learnt too. We know and recognize many great leaders around us. Their greatness lies in the fact that they have the ability to understand, use, and manage their own emotions in positive ways and those of others. They can easily can connect with people on a personal or emotional level. This consistently helps them in forging a strong bond with people. Mind you, this again is not a trait limited to leaders. In fact, there is a dire need for people at all levels to develop and work on their emotional intelligence as it helps them to stay calm and happy.

People with power skills are certainly in high demand today but unfortunately in short supply. The good news is all these skills can be learnt. People who are eager to move from their current work profile to aspirational ones can start by developing these power skills.

Embracing change-Is the way to go!

The digital age is here and is likely to spread its tentacles far and wide. Those who are going to embrace this change are most likely to move scale up in their career graph, besides acquiring the aforementioned power skill of course! Younger population have demonstrated an adaptive response when it comes to acquiring digital skills. Youth from the lower income group are beginning to acquire skills that will help them enter aspirational service sectors like retail, BPO, F&B, sales, customer service etc. This comfort with the digital medium and the easy accessibility to cost effective smartphones with low data rates have created an opportunity for the youth to access high quality online training programs (here we can put a link to xmile) to secure employment. We will soon see an emergence of skill-based labour market in the coming years. That brings us to question of what kind of new jobs are going to come up? Covid as we know have made many jobs obsolete as quoted in the Mckinsey report. The good news is there are many new jobs that are waiting in the anvil. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, these are the areas where a plethora of work opportunities would come up in a few years.

  • 3D and 4D printing and modelling
  • Artificial intelligence (e.g., machine learning, neural networks, NLP)
  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Big data analytics
  • Biotechnology
  • Cloud computing
  • Distributed ledger technology (e.g., blockchain)
  • E-commerce and digital trade
  • Encryption and cybersecurity
  • Internet of things and connected devices
  • New materials (e.g. nanotubes, graphene)
  • Power storage and generation
  • Quantum computing
  • Robots, humanoid
  • Robots, non-humanoid (industrial automation, drones, etc.)
  • Text, image and voice processing

 

As far as career options are concerned, here are few interesting ones to be considered:

Space tourist guides: This job is earmarked for the elite. As it’s widely reported, Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origins is already inviting bids to book a seat in its space rocket. A space tourist guide has the makings of becoming the most coveted job of the future.

Planner for leisure time activities: With automation making its presence felt, people may have more time on hand to opt for active or passive vacations. Leisure time planners are bound to be in great demand!

Climate geo-engineers: Climate change topic has gained worldwide prominence and rightly so with alarming pollution levels and greenhouse gas emissions. The urgent need to bring down the carbon foot print will soon become a prerogative of every nation. Climate geo engineers are qualified to bring down the carbon foot print may soon become the most sought-after career option and probably the most revered job by organizations and government alike.

Cyber security professionals: Securing confidential data of users and the company has become the most crucial task in this digital age. Cyber security experts play a significant role in securing enormous data and online payments in sectors like financial institutions, healthcare and even government organizations.

Freelancing options- This is certainly not limited to any one particular job. You can choose to be a freelancer in content writing, Public relations, graphic designing, photography, programmer, translator, fashion or even marketing. Freelancing options are unlimited but it requires a specific skill set which is definitely not easy to develop.

Various reports by FICCI, NASSCOM and EY suggest that by 2022, 9% of Indians would take up jobs that do not exist yet, and over 37% of the workforce would be moved to opportunities that demand radical change in skill sets. With new opportunities likely to appear, some of the old jobs may become obsolete owing to digitization. We have already noticed that job losses have been happening across industries at all levels. The IT and ITES may have experienced few job losses while there are sectors like aviation, hospitality, food, travel and tourism which have suffered huge losses both in terms of finance and people. Retail and manufacturing sectors too have not been spared. The situation is not all that grim as NASSCOM predicts that Demand for ’job-ready’ skills in India is predicted to grow up to twenty times by 2024. This opens up an immense opportunity for Young and underprivileged population of our country. In additional to their conventional degrees, their skill sets can be polished by skilling institutes or hiring organizations like us. Focusing on our philosophy of Head count to Brain Count, we have already deployed over 11000+ associates (after rigorous selection processes and skilling initiatives) in major industry sectors and business of all sizes. HR companies have the potential to emerge as partner in progress especially when it comes to improving the employability skills of the youth and youth as we know are not only the future workforce but an indomitable force who can create a positive impact on the socio economic and financial landscape of our country.

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K Vijayaraghavan
K Vijayaraghavan
3 months ago

Very well researched.Very informative

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