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5 skills & character traits for employability in the aftermath of COVID-19

The pandemic has forever changed the landscape of work in Asia.

In Singapore, EdTech efforts are underway to empower fresh graduates and mid-career workers to remain employable. Many graduates are emerging from school without the “just in time” knowledge needed for current jobs.

“It is no longer about just compulsory education, but it is about continuing education,” said Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, adding that the city-state has to find new ways of educating adult learners.

Having skills in problem-solving, self-management, working with people, and technology use are in demand for the relevant workforce of the future.

Microlearning will be the key to rapid upskilling and reskilling, as learning in small bites will match the needs of a workforce that needs to pivot quickly.

Here are five skills and character traits needed for employability in the aftermath of COVID-19

1. Willingness to Adapt

More and more, businesses are making the shift online. In the wake of COVID-19, employees should take a flexible mindset to allow adaption and change. Daily tasks will be optimized with new digital tools and processes essential for work. To excel in this new normal, workers will have to be ready to continuously upskill in order to stay relevant and competitive within their company, and the industry at large. 

One important key to staying relevant is adaptive learning. The traditional path of learning, work, and retirement are gone. In a post-pandemic world, workers will find themselves learning, working, pivoting, upskilling, and continuing to work. Change will become the new norm. But with that comes opportunities for personal and professional growth.

2. Ready to Upskill

Sustained efforts to upskill and reskill is a huge part of keeping the COVID-19 workforce employable. With working from home allowed by many employers, time saved on commuting to the office is available to broaden current skill sets. And as the company transforms, employees will need to close their skill gaps in order to not be left behind.

3. Digital literacy

It’s not necessary for everyone to know Python and have master coding skills to remain employable in a post-pandemic world. But it’s important to be able to use the latest technological tools that relate to an employee’s job function.

In the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report, a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines could displace an estimated 85 million jobs by 2025. But the transformation will also give rise to 97 million new roles.

The demise of brick-and-mortar retail stores such as Singapore’s Robinsons is indicative of the transformation to e-commerce. Remote work utilizing video conferencing platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are very much part of the new normal.

Having relevant digital skill sets will keep the workforce of today competitive. Skills gaps can always be closed by continuous learning opportunities.

4. Have emotional intelligence

Soft skills such as emotional intelligence (EQ) are more than ever in demand. Added stresses and pressures of the post-pandemic world can adversely affect any team. Empathy and listening skills are critical to success.

Being mindful of co-workers’ emotions and connecting with them calmly is key to ensuring that tasks are optimized and completed smoothly. Individuals who possess high EQ are also in a better position for career progression and staying employable. Emotional intelligence in the workplace is a pillar of employability.

According to futurist Scott Steinberg, “With the emergence of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the ability to recognize, understand and manage not just your own emotions, but also those of others, has become one of the top skills employers look for.”

“Strong emotional intelligence skills allow us to understand and interact with our feelings in a way that helps us build quality relationships and make decisions effectively,” said Steinberg.

5. Improvise, be creative

Thinking outside of the box may be a cliche. But having the ability to find creative solutions is one attribute of employability in a post-pandemic world. Staying agile in the face of unprecedented challenges fosters innovation.

The creativity of teachers during the pandemic is what saved education for many learners. Improvising with resources at hand can often solve many problems.

Businesses impacted by COVID-19 also found opportunities to pivot and build upon their brand identity. Employees who have the ability to troubleshoot problems and offer creative solutions will remain a valuable asset for any company.

The mindset of finding solutions to make things work is the attitude needed to navigate a market impacted by COVID-19.

LEARNTech Asia
LEARNTech Asia showcases innovation in learning in Asia. We feature stories and resources in online learning, workplace learning, adult education, EdTech, and creative solutions by teachers and trainers in learning institutions, non-profits, and enterprises that enhance human capacity and inspire communities of lifelong learners.