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New World Workforce: How to Hone Your Skills in a Post-COVID World

By Martha Michael

The New Workforce

When areas of the country shut down during the COVID-19 health crisis, your job may have ended or been put on pause. Some occupations can’t just press rewind and pick up where they left off, as lifestyles have changed and new trends have begun. Right now may be as good a time as any to reinvent yourself, especially if you find yourself unemployed.

Skills and Qualities

Like anything trending in the career world, there are projections about which job skills are in high demand, according to an article in Forbes. Changes from COVID-19 have emphasized the need for some qualities over others as we move forward in a post-COVID world, including:

  • Adaptability - Because the world changes so rapidly, companies want employees who can do the same.
  • Tech savvy - The digital transformation of the workplace has emphasized the demand for staff members who can work seamlessly with technology.
  • Creativity - The world watched in real time as businesses shifted and morphed to meet their marketplace demands during the pandemic. Executives now value creative work.
  • Data literacy - When companies put resources toward the collection of facts and figures, they need data literate employees.
  • Critical thinking - Corporate leaders look for job candidates who can scrutinize information and analyze truthfulness.
  • Digital and coding skills - The digital aspect of a business has never been more important. Staff members need to tackle web development, coding, and digital marketing for companies to succeed.
  • Leadership skills - With changes from social distancing to an expanded gig or freelance economy, today’s employees need to be able to lead others.
  • Emotional intelligence - When times are challenging, it’s even more important to have staff members who can get a read on the emotional atmosphere in the workplace.
  • Lifetime learning - You stay relevant when you continue growing in knowledge and skill level.

Jobs Expecting Growth

If market research shows that your industry is changing, it will typically benefit you to shift along with it. Despite the economic downturn, some occupations are experiencing growth following the coronavirus pause. Of the 20.5 million jobs lost in April, more than 18 million were considered temporary, says an article on CNBC.com.

In some cases, the new state of the working world calls for a complete job change. If you need to find a new occupation, you may as well choose one in an area with the most room for new hires.

“There are companies out there that are hiring. What’s important to note is that a lot of the workforce is going to have to consider potential new jobs with transferable skills,” says Amy Glaser, senior vice president at staffing agency Adecco. “For example, the fast-food industry has taken a hit, but the skills of fast-food workers translate really well into warehouses.”

Jobs that are directly related to the coronavirus are opening up, including contact tracers and health workers who are hired to take temperatures of employees returning to certain job sites. Also, because the pandemic hit nursing homes so seriously, services for seniors have the attention of Americans, which has widened the demand for employees in this sector.

Some companies have retained viability by going online. Fitness trainers and yogis, for example, have begun offering their expertise to clients virtually.

“If you don’t pivot you die,” says Josh York, founder and CEO of GYMGUYZ, a company providing personalized workouts in customers’ homes. York is hiring hundreds of trainers to offer remote fitness programs.

Even before COVID-19 hit the United States, the number of remote jobs had risen 270 percent since 2017, says an article in Fortune. There is a wide range of companies increasing work-from-home opportunities, which opens up the job market for people needing work.

A list created by FlexJobs shows dozens of companies recruiting workers for remote positions. They include:

  • Social workers
  • Cybersecurity professionals
  • Benefits manager
  • Speech pathologists
  • Social Media Team managers
  • Academic advisors
  • Creative director at Oracle
  • Customer service representatives
  • Language interpreters
  • Attorneys
  • Remote accounting services

In 2018, the investment app Acorns posted a list of jobs with growth potential offering projections into the future using a 10-year span. Taking into consideration the aftermath of social distancing and other changes during the coronavirus shutdown, the article highlights those positions with a higher demand.

Americans became more aware of the value of our supply chain, thanks to COVID-19. Jobs that keep store shelves stocked -- from drivers to logisticians -- should be in slightly higher demand in the coming years. Acorns figured employment stood to rise by 8,400 jobs between 2018 and 2028, a 5 percent increase that may now be a conservative estimate.

Healthcare is another industry that gained prominence during the pandemic. There were 3 million registered nurses employed in 2018 and the expected growth by 2028 was 12 percent. Physician assistant positions are expected to boom -- going up more than 30 percent by 2028, which will add 37,000 jobs.

Software developers are still in demand as well. There were 1,365,500 employed in 2018 and the number should rise by an additional 264,100 jobs in the next eight years.

Careers in marketing also have a shiny future. Managers and workers in advertising and promotions are projected to rise by 8 percent, totaling more than 300,000 individuals in marketing jobs by 2028.

The Road to New Employment

The path to any career depends, of course, on the occupation. If you set your sights on healthcare you need to enroll in a college or certification program that gives you the necessary credentials for the job. While many educational institutions have online options, you may enroll and begin your studies remotely.

If you plan to stay in your field but pivot toward something with a higher demand -- such as a move out of administration and into sales -- you may just need training, not a degree program.

Check your local adult school, which often has free or affordable programs in everything from history to learning a second language. The community college near you may also have a low-cost program to hone some skills.

Taking a masterclass is an option that’s growing in popularity, and because it involves online immersion it is increasingly available to individuals all over the world. Taught by experts in a particular field, a masterclass is an e-learning experience enabling people to delve into a subject of interest through a series of lectures.

It is burdensome to be forced out of an occupation in which you have experience and skills, but it can be an opportunity for greater success. Before you take your next step in the job market, it’s a good idea to fast forward and see if there’s room for growth in the field you choose.

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