Skilling Careers

Long-term COVID-19 effect: ‘There is an upskilling challenge on the cards’

Candidates at a job fair held in Bengaluru (Photo used for representational purpose). Photo: Murali Kumar K  

While medicos are addressing the question of COVID-19’s long-term impact on the human body, organisational-development professionals are assessing the long-term effects of the pandemic on work and workforces.

As McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI) latest study on the matter presents chilling statistics about the migration to new occupations, the most daunting idea to emerge from it has to do with what it takes to make this migration successful.

Presenting a background picture, “The future of work after COVID-19”, as the report is called, reflects realities in eight countries — China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Due to changes in consumer behaviour and business models, in these eight countries, “more than 100 million workers, or one in 16, may need to find jobs in new occupations by 2030 — and the shifts will require more advanced skills and intensify the retraining challenge,” an MGI press release quotes from the report. “In India, 18 million workers may need to switch occupations by 2030.”

Upskilling challenge

Gig work and automation would grow, the study points out.

The report explains: “Companies have started to adopting automation and AI to reduce workplace density and cope with demand surges, and this may accelerate as the economy recovers,” says the report.

Workers will be challenged to upskill themselves, many of them forced to develop “technological skills and higher socio-emotional capacity to acquire new skillsets”.

“The pandemic will make the reskilling challenge more daunting. Its effects will fall heaviest on the most vulnerable workers. This creates a new urgency for companies and policymakers to help these workers gain the skills most needed in the future,” says MGI partner and report co-author Anu Madgavkar.

“The long-term effects of the virus may reduce the number of low-wage jobs available, which previously served as a safety net for displaced workers,” said Susan Lund, a partner at the MGI and co-author of the report. “Going forward, these workers will need to prepare themselves to find work in occupations with higher wages that require more complex skills, such as jobs in health care, technology, teaching and training, social work, and human resources.” Many low-wage jobs in, particularly in food service, customer service and hospitality, are expectd to fall like nine pins.

Areas of work that would be hugely impacted, registering permanent changes, include remote work, business travel, geography of work and automation.

Hybrid work models

“Companies are already devising hybrid remote work models, and MGI estimates that roughly 20 to 25 percent of workers in advanced economies could do their jobs most of the time from home,” the report says. “In India, about five percent of the workforce could potentially work remotely for more than three days a week, though this share is as high as 70 percent for key sectors like financial services and information technology.”

Reduced work travel

With workforces having got accustomed to virtual meetings, the new behaviour is put down strong roots in many areas of collaboration. According to the report, this change would lop off business travel by 20 percent, on an average, across the eight countries. This trend would result in “knock-on effects for restaurants, hotels, and airlines”, the report adds.

In 2020, in India, “grocery and food delivery, online banking, telemedicine, and streaming entertainment soared”, and the McKinsey surveys conducted over a period of time show that online-shopping behaviours adopted on account of the pandemic will become well-entrenched.

“Seventy to eighty percent of consumers in India say they will continue using these channels because of the convenience they offer,” the report says.

The report is available at:

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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:39:22 PM |

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