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Employability and Professional future: analysis of the new post-pandemic challenges

by Valerio Mancini, Rome Business School’s Research Center Director

Skills are essential for competitiveness and employability: structural changes such as globalization and technological progress are requiring ever higher skills and even more relevant to demands of the labor market in order to guarantee productivity growth and the availability of quality jobs.

The relationship between training and employment is an issue which, although it is always part of the social structure of any country, acquires particular relevance in times of crisis, such as the one we are currently experiencing. It is very important, in order to have as many opportunities as possible in the labor market, to find your niche. In fact, in the post Covid-19 scenario, innovative and technological ideas will undoubtedly be rewarded, even if they won’t be the only ones.

The global pandemic has caused an economic crisis that we have never experienced before and has shown that we need to make extensive changes to our socio-economic system, necessarily moving towards a more resilient, fair, inclusive, innovative, creative and sustainable economy, which best suits to the future challenges and opportunities. Therefore, by analyzing “The future of Jobs” report, published by the World Economic Forum, in 5 years half of the entire workforce will have to undertake a process of adaption of their skills in order to be able to remain competitive in a market that is undergoing an unprecedented transformation.

Fortunately, the same technological revolution that is radically changing the work setting hides on its inside the key to give rise to new forms of employment and to provide us with new skills to acquire.

In this regard, the words of the president and founder of the Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab, are encouraging: “The wealth of technological innovation that defines our current era can be exploited to release human potential”. It is estimated that by 2025, as a result of the increasingly human-machine interrelation, 85 million jobs will be lost, but at the same time, 97 million new jobs structured to better adapt to the new division of labor between beings humans, machines and software will be created.

Finally, there are real trends that have accelerated their normal development process due to the pandemic. One of these is the Great Resignation, or the phenomenon of mass resignation. In fact, an increasing number of people are voluntarily leaving their jobs.

In fact, a generalized desire has emerged among the workers to regain possession of the time to devote to themselves and to the family, to sport, to raise their quality of life and, above all, to look at work in a different way to defend the desired work-life balance, the perfect balance between work life and free time. In this regard, according to recent research by Mc McKinsey & Company, a

multinational strategic consultancy, 40% of workers worldwide want to change their position in the near future. Among employers, 53% said they have a voluntary turnover compared to previous years and 64% of them expect the problem to get worse in the future.

Soft, hard and life skills

Among the soft skills we all know, the first ever that creates harmony within a team is Resilience.

  • Resilience also has to do with an increased ability to face dark times. The work is not always linear, there can be moments of crisis and, as we have seen during the pandemic period, it is increasingly important to know how to manage them and to understand how to recover quickly for them.
  • Autonomy is a precious quality, often underestimated. Being autonomous is certainly one of the new strengths of the post Covid worker. Not only in the smart working field, the capacity for autonomy has to do with the employer’s ability to delegate work.
  • Flexibility and a pragmatic approach: in the face of an uncertain, complex and ambiguous context, flexibility and practicality prove to be the key to success for companies that must adapt their management and organizational methods to better respond to market needs. However, an employee capable of accepting a sudden change without being disoriented can surely contribute to the development and maintenance of the company for which he/she works.
  • Adaptability: among the soft skills, the one that should have a prominent place is precisely adaptability. It is necessary skill requested in the labor market which serves to bring out problems especially in the Recruitment process.
  • Creativity and innovation: it is not possible to talk about skills without thinking about creativity. Creativity and innovation go hand in hand. We cannot underestimate their importance. The post Covid-19 reality worker must be able to develop his/her own creative strategy, getting involved is fundamental. Creativity follows innovation and the latter often generates profit.

Hard Skills

The most requested skills in the post Covid-19 reality will remain the technical and organizational ones. In fact, training is always crucial in order to keep up with the times. The technical skills and above all the IT profiles will be those to be most requested and rewarded in the labor market.

Digital has become more and more important and we can notice it even in websites, such as LinkedIn, where professionals in the sector are in great demand. Digital skills will be the most rewarded and will be the must of 2021.

As we have seen, Italy needs digitalization and, therefore, the stars of the future labor market will have to guarantee to possess those skills, not only for the issue linked to smart working, but for facilitating technological innovation.

Soft Skills

The most requested skills in the future job market:

The conclusion therefore arises that it will become crucial in the near future to develop new skills, by virtue of the growing need on the part of workers to interface with technological systems and digital platforms. The WEF forecasts show that the share of basic skills destined to change will be 40%, so much so that, as anticipated, 50% of all workers will have to retrain.

But what are the 10 most important skills identified by the Forum for tomorrow’s work?

  1. Analytical Thinking and Innovation
  2. Active Learning and Learning Strategies
  3. Ability to solve complex problems
  4. Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
  5. Creativity, Originality and Spirit of Initiative
  6. Leadership and Social Influence
  7. Use of Technologies, Monitoring and Control
  8. Design and Technological Programming
  9. Resilience, Stress Management and Flexibility
  10. Reasoning, Problem Solving and Ideation

Critical thinking (skill 1) and problem solving (skill 3) have remained constant in the ranking of the first skills since the first edition of the Forum in 2016. On the other hand, this year, new emerging skills deriving from self-management such as active learning (skill 2), resilience, tolerance to stress and flexibility (skill 9) are making their appearance. Leadership (skill 6) assumes a central and fundamental role, precisely to guide and influence the innovation and change that await us in the coming years.

The demand for the acquisition of new skills has therefore bifurcated, flanking the omnipresent demand for digital skills (skills 7 and 8), such as data analysis, computer use and information technology, a new sector with a strong imprint of individual enhancement and growth (skills 4, 5 and 10).