The far-reaching impact of COVID-19 has had a profound impact on labour markets, such as: 

  1. The number of jobs (which affects unemployment and underemployment),
  2. The quality of work (which affects wages and access to social protection),
  3. The impact on specific groups and target areas as supported through the SDG focus, which has a significant and disproportionate impact on women and youth

Recent research conducted by the Adecco Group in its report “Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work has highlighted a number of significant findings. Highlights include the changing attitudes towards the world of work as well as gaps that employers need to address to remain “an employer of choice in the emerging future era of work”. 

The report suggests a need to evolve in terms of management and leadership styles, the way we work, the way we relate to one another and the way we learn. Key report findings include:

  • The future is flexible.
    Hybrid working is emerging as a key trend across countries, with a 50/50 split between office and remote working seen as the ideal.
  •  Tracking results, not hours worked, is a clear trend.
    The shift to productivity instead of “clock-watching” is a significant shift from traditional management methods.
  •  Leadership needs reinvention and requires more empathy and support towards employees and increasing focus on “soft skills”.
    But not all leaders have these skills, and the gap needs to be addressed.
  •  There is a significant need for reskilling and upskilling with 69% of respondents indicating a need for digital skilling post-COVID-19.
  •  Trust in companies is emerging as a significant factor, with at least 80% of the 8,000 individuals interviewed stating that “their employer is the most responsible for ensuring a better working world after the pandemic”.

The future of work is transforming the mix of skills required from the workforce and at the same time will require a significant shift in mainstream and vocational education. Traditional institutions and approaches to learning are increasingly becoming outdated and we need to engage more meaningfully with new policy advances and tools, particularly digital ones, to ensure relevance to new and emerging roles and the changing nature of work. The pandemic has shown us that those who can work remotely have fared better in adapting to the new normal. Investing in digital skills and technology has become a critical denominator in ensuring continuity for learning and training. 

GAN Global and its members and partners continue to champion work-based learning solutions, including apprenticeships and the importance of this strategy and approach is particularly amplified by the current disruptions of COVID-19. These times have further highlighted the necessity of agile workforces with flexible skills to respond to technological shifts in the world of work.

 The focus on apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning, especially those that integrate digital learning, are key to offering viable and meaningful pathways for all segments of the workforce.  Building a strong skills strategy in a collaborative manner, with strong public-private partnerships will be a key element in ensuring that we are able to respond to the shocks of the current pandemic and stabilise economies and labour markets to restart and reset. Through the chaos and confusion, it is good to know that relevant and responsive skills development offers a sense of continuity and hope for the future!

Nazrene Mannie is Executive Director of GAN Global