Our world and environments, working and personal spaces, have changed so dramatically and so rapidly that we have been left reeling in shock, and scrambling to adapt. Many people are just trying to ‘hang in there’ and wait for a return to what used to be. Taryn Strydom of Boston City Campus believes that we will not be returning to ‘normal’. “Currently workplaces that are operational have many protocols that must be observed, including encouraging as many people as possible to work from home. Businesses, in order to survive, have had to change their services, products, and the way that they are offered in order to continue to survive, and hopefully thrive.” Taryn continues explaining that many service providers such as hairdressers and nail technicians have been prevented from offering their services for four months. The staff of liquor stores do not know if they will have a job to go back to. Therefore in planning for a world post-lockdown, the very best thing that you can do right now is upskill yourself so that you have new and relevant skills to offer an employer, or a community should you decide to open your own business.
Taryn discusses five reasons why she believes that now is an excellent time to start a qualification.
- We now have more time for our studies. We are saving time by not travelling to and from work. Many people previously used the excuse that ‘they don’t have the time’ to study’. One of the advantages of working from home is the added time we have to our days. Even if you are traveling to work, nights and weekends should find you with additional time as we are not visiting family and having social arrangements.
- Studying online creates a resilience, perseverance and independence that are traits valued highly in the fourth industrial revolution. Acknowledging the context of the 21st century and the fourth industrial revolution, online learning by its very nature supports and develops personal independence, and prepares the candidate for the modern workplace – one which is characterised by remote work-from-home arrangements and a high degree of personal autonomy. The student who has had to self-manage their studies is someone who can be trusted to meet deadlines in the remote workplace.
- Develop new soft-skills. Part of upskilling is that we also develop ways to think critically, solve problems, and take responsibility for progress: these “soft skills” are valuable currency in the modern workplace.
- Face unpredictability armed with an ability to adapt. We have seen from the economy sliding and daily events, that our lives are more unpredictable than ever. The only way to combat this is to maintain relevance in a workplace that is always changing. Travel agents are now baking and selling goods from home. With people working from home, imagine if you had the ability to do tech call-outs? Fix a laptop or a network issue in an emergency? Or if you have web design skills, you can be the start of someone’s new online business by setting up their website and ordering system? Perhaps develop an app for home-schooling? There are opportunities out there for work, we need to have the skills that we can network ourselves and offer services.
- When and if we do get back to looking for employment with a large corporate, we will still need new fourth industrial revolution skills. The landscape has shifted, and employers will demand employees that can fill many roles as companies have scaled back to adapt to the economy. Companies will always need bookkeepers, for example, but also brand builders and call centre agents. They will also be looking for leaders who can generate ideas and make them happen through project management. Using the time to study now, means you will have skills you can use both during and after lockdown, as we face the changing landscape as leaders. Taking our qualifications a level higher creates great opportunities for upward mobility, earning potential increases, and new job opportunities will open up.