Thought Leadership

The Impact of Covid-19 on Future Work Skills

As we move into the post-pandemic era, it is not surprising, and unavoidable, that the list of key skills that companies and their employees will need to be effective in the future has new skills and also has pushed down skills that may not be in demand anymore. Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers —or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than half of the respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem.


The coronavirus pandemic has made this question more urgent. Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working — or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in a post-pandemic era.


Organisational skilling and capability – building strategy have risen to the top of organisational priorities. For individuals, the need to upskill has never been more pressing. Reskilling could be the best strategy for individuals to ensure they are flexible and nimble resources – and are as indispensable as possible. In the new post-covid era , upskilling will be the most important investment Corporates and individuals can make. To quote Alvin Toffler , author of Future Shock – “the illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”

To meet the skills challenge, companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical FutureFit skills. Now is the time for companies to double down on their learning budgets and commit to reskilling. Developing this muscle will also strengthen companies for future disruptions.

Organisational learning and development has seen three big developments:


Talent on demand and crowdsourced skilling. Through the use of digitally enabled medium organisations can sources skills from anywhere in the world for specific projects and periods. All business units (not just HR or L&D) are getting involved in bridging the skills gaps.

Learning and development is more appreciated and supported across more organisational leaders and management teams.

Learning and development is sustained more effectively through a variety of integrated interventions including, corporate culture initiatives, performance management processes, and social and peer to peer learning interventions.

Companies like Dell Technologies, DHL Forwarding, HP, Google, Walmart, and
ICBC are prioritising learning and supporting this in a variety of ways including:

>Enabling “learn from home” for employees
>Encouraging employees to think of their skills set as a “career currency”
>Shifting employees mindset from careers as role-based to careers as skills-based
>Linking corporate skills and learning to personal values and personal life goals