Davies Ndumiso Sibanda, Labour Matters
MANY people who are at home during the lockdown do not realise that the world will not be the same after the lockdown and are not preparing themselves to remain relevant. The motor racing industry and many others have quickly adapted and started producing ventilators and other Covid-19 related products.
China, the first victim of Covid-19, is making a fortune out of producing new products for Covid-19 protection. All these responses have brought about change that is not reversible.
Online conduct of meetings, lectures and examinations brings in a lot of changes. There will be less travel, less use of hotels, less food eaten in hotels, less fuel consumed by businesses. Online purchases as done by Fazak in Bulawayo means job loses for till operators. Home delivery of packaged farm produce directly from the farms means changes to the way middlemen will have to operate. Upgrading of hospitals could also leave a permanent mark. Online purchase of drugs will have an impact on the future of pharmacists. The return of the USD in “however” form is likely to take us back to the rest of the world. These are a few examples of changes likely to be with us into the future.
The worst mistake many workers are making is to sit at home and wait for the lockdown to come to an end and go back to jobs and companies, which might no longer be there. A smart worker should have foresight and retool for the future.
There are knowledges we all have to acquire if we are to survive in the age of technology. We need to acquire the requisite content, which comprises of facts, principles, ideas, processes, procedures and many others. Workers have to develop effective communication skills, ability to learn independently, personal discipline and ethics, critical thinking, working alone, working in distant teams, knowledge management and above all digital age skills.
The world is moving towards digital age skills and it is these skills that are now critical after Covid-19. Workers should be on their phones, laptops, tablets and desktops teaching themselves programmes that talk to their areas of expertise or learning new skills that will help them survive. For example the ability to handle conferencing applications is now a must for everyone who attends meetings, as meeting will not be physical attendance in many instances.
Online stores are not closed, free training programmes are floating all over the internet and there is no excuse for not learning. In fact, employers might not have to invest a lot of money training people in some areas, but they will terminate and replace them with those who are skilled.
In addition, working from home has proved possible for many and that will require workers to develop skills for working from home, which is a complex thing as there will be no boss near you, their children, visitors and neighbors who want attention. Online meetings are on set times and many others, which have to be managed.
Some workers can easily tell that their jobs will quickly disappear after lockdown. There is no need to sit and wait, but clever workers have spent time teaching themselves online marketing, computer repairs, software management, web design, website management, graphic design, online conference management, photography, various computer languages and many others so as to fit somewhere.
In conclusion, with all these changes and opportunities, workers who want to stay relevant and keep their jobs must retool. There is no choice as employers are unlikely to use their hearts but what is best for their survival into the future and if a worker is to lose a job so be it as painful as it may be.
Davies Ndumiso Sibanda can be contacted on: email: [email protected]