Staying relevant for job market amidst COVID Crisis

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Professionals with digital skills, including coding, web development, and digital marketing are likely to become even more employable than they are now; ‘upskilling’ will become the keyword

“You should be able to apply your skills in real-world situations,” Mr. Anup Sasidharan, Director, Strategic Alliances & International Partnerships at Global University Systems explained to his audience of curious students and anxious professionals. He was among the three panellists on the virtual stage to discuss the urgent measures that need to be taken to manage the fast-evolving crisis of jobs and work. Over the next hour, Mr. Anup along with his fellow speakers, Dr. Deepak Singh, Director, Human Resources at KPMG, India, and Mr. Sushil Bharadwaj, Senior Analyst, Talent Acquisition at Dell Technologies, gave students an overview of the post-coronavirus job scenario and how they can use this opportunity to enhance their skills and be ready for the world.

The webinar was moderated deftly by UPES student, Ms. Sarmistha Chaterjee. Excerpts:

Q: How will the economy shape up once the lockdown is lifted?

Mr. Anup: The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been dreadful. It has affected everything: healthcare, social lives and our psyche as a country and the world as a whole. The impact on the economy has been severe, estimated to be somewhere around 90 billion USD to 100 billion USD, according to reports.

Sectors such as hospitality, travel and retail have been severely affected. Automobile, which was already suffering, has been hit even harder. However, once the lockdown is removed, we expect pharmaceuticals and e-commerce to do well; FMCG, logistics, technology and edutech will also remain reasonably resilient. 

Dr. Deepak: One would have never thought of working or studying (in the case of students), from home for such a long time. While negativity is floating around everywhere about what will happen to the economy, to the jobs, let me give you a new perspective. For students, this is the time to upskill. They should do the maximum number of online internships, read journals and white papers and do online courses. Hence, when the economy is in the recovery mode, you will be the people who will have an edge in the competitive market. This is the time to sharpen your skills.

What is going to be the new normal when it comes to sharing of space?

Mr. Sushil: There will be a psychological fear among people once the lockdown is lifted and we start going to offices, colleges and other public places. Companies are cognizant of workplace safety as well. There will be discussions and policies about the extension of working from home.

Mr. Anup: Dubai, for instance, lifted their lockdown with the mandate that the offices can only have 30% of the staff working on a given day. Such scheduling will be imposed at least for the shorter run. Most of the workforce has been agile and productive even during these stressful times. I see a lot of work from home extensions. We will also see e-commerce and digital businesses thriving and, as a result, digital skillsets will be on the fore. We might be a different domain specialist but all of us would need some digital skillsets to thrive.

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Upskilling yourself with a master’s or doing internships is always a good idea

What is the key to be a successful professional in the current grim situation?

Dr. Deepak: If you look at the whole professional arena, it has shifted from lateral hire workers to millennials. And millennials do not look at their professional space in an absolute structural way. They are multi-skilled and work in a flexible timeframe.

Having said that, the successful mantra today is to become a subject matter expert, in whatever field you are – whether you are a digital consultant or an HR professional. The second thing is to help people with your knowledge – how you disseminate your knowledge and apply it is important.

Mr. Sushil: Pick up what is available – be it a contractual opportunity, certifications, online courses, a live project – whatever you could work on to enhance your skills. Start with what you get as an opportunity today and then become a subject matter expert.

Mr. Anup: Be like a T-shaped professional. Along with your subject matter depth, have enough broad-based skillset, which is relevant to the times and complementary to your main domain expertise. For instance, if you are an engineer who designs for web, having an understanding of web design and the basics of coding would be helpful. This will make you more employable.

For a fresh graduate, what is more relevant in these trying times – pursuing master’s or taking up a job?

Mr. Anup: If you get a good job that you like, take it. Otherwise, upskilling yourself with a master’s or doing internships is always a good idea. It is largely contextualised to your scenario.

Consider this: Automation is going to be in demand in the auto sector, which is facing a crisis. In such a case, acquiring an understanding of robotics along with studying automobile engineering is a way of upskilling, which will make you more employable. The addition of complementary skills will increase your odds of getting a job.

Thus, going forward, remote work is expected to spur the demand for employees who are well-versed with technology. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things, virtual and augmented reality, and robotics will make businesses more resilient to future pandemics. To listen to the complete webinar, click on https://www.upes.ac.in/webinars/staying-relevant-for-job-market-amidst-covid-crisis

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