Covid-19 has changed the world. It has changed how people conduct their businesses and how they relate to each other. Crowds are being limited and businesses are embracing their employees working from their homes.
“Covid-19 was something that was not anticipated. It is an event in history that no one was ready for. Institutions did not have strategies in place. Organizations had not figured out how we can enable employees to work remotely and still deliver the same required results. Many have ended up reacting towards Covid-19,” said Mr. James Muhia from PwC.
The coming of Covid-19 led to thousands of businesses in Kenya shutting down and millions of Kenyans losing their jobs. Stats show that at least 2,000,000 Kenyans were rendered jobless as a result of the pandemic. Schools were shut and cessation of movement in and out of the country as well as other counties put in place by the government.
Organizations and businesses in Kenya have been striving to adapt to the new world, including cutting down on costs by letting unproductive employees go, reducing office space by letting their employees work from their homes among other initiatives.
“From a policy point of view, we are seeing changes in various organizations, especially in matters to do with the insurance. For instance, what happens when you get into an accident and you are working from home? Who bears that cost considering that your home is now your office?” says Mr. Muhia.
According to Mr. Muhia, most organizations are effecting changes in form of Key Performance Indicators (KIPs) in terms of assessing productivity. “We have seen institutions that have had to let go of non-value-adding capabilities and unfortunately that has led to the redundancies being experienced.”
The beauty of Covid-19 is the adoption of digitization by various organizations. According to Mr. Muhia, a number of institutions have embraced the virtual ways of working and making investments in terms of virtual infrastructure for online collaboration.
Should the people be scared of the new world, new skills in terms of the security of their jobs? Mr. Muhia says no. He says the new world new skills will actually create new jobs instead of scaling them down. He says the new world will impact the employability of individuals.
“New world new skills will actually potentially generate new jobs rather than actually scaling them down. There needs to be a point of convergence between automation, technology, digitization, and the human touch,” said Mr. Muhia.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic impact are massively affecting the way we live our daily lives and how we do business. It’s accelerating the technological revolution – but with that comes disruption to jobs and business and increased disparity between those with technological skills and those without.
Skills gaps and mismatches present one of the world’s most pressing problems – one that we face in our business as well. “It is not more the technical skills that are required in the new world because those are the skills that people already have. Digital skills are very important. People need to have empathy and we need to check on mental awareness,” said Mr. Muhia.
To help organizations cope with the changing world, PwC came up with the New World, New Skills. It is a global program that is set to be rolled out with the aim of building trust in society and solve important problems. “We plan on influencing curriculum where we are working with government agencies such as the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, institutions of higher learning on what the market needs today as well as shaping skills.”
The workforce of the future is one of the biggest issues facing business and the world at present. Our biggest challenge is knowing where to start. Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is doing something else.
“The PwC New World New Skills does not discriminate and is ready to partner and work with individuals, SMEs, and organizations to identify the vital capabilities that their spaces require,” said Mr. Muhia. “Part of our program is to identify what sort of communications skills required putting in mind that some organizations have been struggling with coping up with conversations on social media.”
A parting shot from Mr. Muhia: “Will my skills be relevant in the future?”