Workplace realities are changing and skills that once fetch fortune presently have tech alternatives. It is not surprising. Like the forces that invalidated the stone-age era, the global economy is simply undergoing a strategic shift which is slowly disposing of the working models that uphold the industrial revolution.
The labour market position of the unskilled workforce has been terribly affected as robots can easily duplicate the segment’s role to the delight of cost-saving capitalists. The decline in the demand for low-skilled labour force suggests a lesser bargain power for whoever falls in that class. Of course, isn’t it true that whatever is in surplus supply loses value?
Centre for Cities, an England-based charity organisation, captured the changing workforce position globally. It said, “Major changes in the economy – technological change, globalisation and demographic change among others – are affecting demand for skills in two ways. Firstly, they have changed the type of jobs people are doing, both in terms of job titles and the tasks they involve. Secondly, they have changed the type of skills required within existing occupations, meaning that for some occupations the job title has stayed the same but the job description has changed”.
It explained that the segment of low-skilled workers such as those involved in “process, plant and machines operatives and skilled trade occupations” have been witnessing sustained decline since the beginning of the millennium. In contrast, employees offering high-skilled, non-routine services which involve critical thinking in roles that comprise strategic management, analytics, media consulting, medicine, software engineering and more have seen a surge of about 2% since 2006.
Skills development is a strategic way to gain relevance in the 21st-century tech and innovation-driven economy. Hence, in aspiring to access a favourable portion of the economic wealth bank investment in skills that are on-demand is non-negotiable.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a publication titled ‘A Skilled Workforce for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth’ highlighted the benefits of investing in skills development.
It expounded, “Available evidence firmly establishes that a combination of good education with training that is of good quality and is relevant to the labour market empowers people
- to develop their full capacities and to seize employment
- raise productivity, both of workers and enterprises;
- contribute to boosting future innovation and development;
- encourage both domestic and foreign investment,
- lower unemployment and underemployment;
- lead to higher wages;
- expand labour market opportunities and reduces social inequalities.
While the government is not likely to take up the responsibilities of up-skilling every segment of the population, the workforce can take up the task and develop new relevant skills or improve on current skills to maintain a vantage position on the socio-economic ladder.
Here are therefore four (4) ways to approach the personal skills development efforts to raise earning power to a sufficient degree in the 21st century:
- Deepen Knowledge – Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and Habit (KASH) are intertwined. Knowledge enhances skills. An above-average skill rating stimulates excellent performances and confidence which attract better placement in the workplace. The search for new knowledge is a positive social habit that should be nurtured to deliver peak performances across all work and business spaces. The Peak Performance Center wrote that “A person’s knowledge is the sum of all his or learning acquired… through education, training, and experience”. It is clear that the more a person knows, the more they are aware of what is changing and what to do to remain relevant. The more they seek relevant knowledge the better and relevant their output which is most likely to attract a commensurate level of incomes.
- Add New and Relevant Skills – The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently listed some of the most sought after soft skills in 2020. They are Creativity, Persuasion, Collaboration, Adaptability and Emotional Intelligence. It also provided insight into emerging new job roles which attract higher pay packages. The jobs include Artificial intelligence, Sales leadership, Analysis, Translation, Mobile app development, People management, and Video production. Developing the top soft skills and investing to re-skill in the new work areas is critical to accessing the wealth bank of the 21st-century economy.
- Commit to Constant Improvement – The workplace is changing fast. New work tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Google Spreadsheet, and Share Point are enabling collaboration in the work environment. As teams become more spatial and work gets delivered from a distant becoming familiar with these tools is essential to keep a job.
- Make Excellence a Goal – Acquiring new skills is as important as committing to delivering quality, refined work. This is the added value sought after by clients. It is the difference-maker. A career guide provided by MyJobStart, a platform for job-seekers, explained excellence. It said, “Excellence is defined as the condition of surpassing some standards of expectation. It is the dream of human resources (HR) practitioners for employees to achieve people excellence in the workplace”. Further to that, the job portal listed the ten (10) paths to achieving excellence as:
– Awareness – knowledge of the areas that need improvement
– Attitude – Taking responsibility for every result
– Action – Making disciplined efforts to improve areas of personal deficiencies
– Ability – Fundamental commitment to doing a task better each time around
– Aim – Setting a clear and specific goal for personal improvement and measuring and monitoring improvement
– Adaptability – Scaling up to trends and innovation in the workplace in a bid to stay relevant
– Affability – Maintaining a friendly disposition which is key to networking for professional growth
– Accountability – Owning every task with all self-sense of corporate responsibility
– Achievement – Aiming for personal excellence above unproductive politicking at the workplace
– Appreciation – Value success and acknowledge the contributions of other people in your team