As businesses adjust to a post-pandemic future, the ability of individuals to demonstrate key skills may become more important than their previous experience or job titles.
This is according to the new ideas of opinion leaders of Microsoft and LinkedIn, who say the rapid transformation of businesses under the pandemic has changed the way companies recruit and advance their staff.
“Skills will be the new currency in the post-pandemic world,” said Ahmed Mazhari, president and vice president of Microsoft Asia. CNBC Make It.
Coronavirus-induced lockdowns forced employers to act quickly through 2020, implementing new technologies and flexible working methods. As a result, “five years of acceleration has happened in one year,” said Olivier Legrand, LinkedIn general manager and vice president for Asia-Pacific and China.
Now, workplaces will want proof that employees can keep pace with change.
Indeed, this is already happening.
According to LinkedIn, more than three-quarters (77%) of job postings posted on its Asia-Pacific platform this year focused on skills before industry experience and specific job titles. Meanwhile, individuals have doubled their personal development, spending 43 million hours on LinkedIn Learning in 2020 alone.
“The narrative around lifelong learning has been around for quite some time,” said Legrand. “But I think the impact of the pandemic on jobs has moved her from a ‘nice’ to have to a ‘must have’. “
This is due to the need for new skills – otherwise known as the skills gap – and the now interdisciplinary nature of jobs and industries.
“Every business needs to think about its own version of digitization, and that requires a whole new set of skills,” said Legrand.
The chief among them are technology skills, such as machine learning, software development, digital marketing, and data analytics. Soft skills such as leadership, project management and communication are also becoming increasingly important, he added.
This change could accelerate innovation and, therefore, economic growth – especially in Asia, Microsoft’s Mazhari said.
“Technology spending as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) will double over the next decade, from 5% to 10% globally,” Mazhari said. “We’ll see more of the acceleration (in Asia) … because our growth rates are higher.”
The International Data Corporation has predicted that global information and communications technology expenses will increase by at least 5% per year from 2021 to 2023 as businesses and countries catch up after the pandemic.
Over the next five to ten years, new technologies – such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and artificial and virtual reality – will account for 25% of that spending, the market research company added.
“Many countries will ignore many rounds of industrialization and technological advancement, ”said Mazhari, describing Asia as a mosaic of technological maturity, with China on one end and Cambodia on the other.
“In this leapfrog the need for more skills will be even greater than today.”
The sprawling continent of 4.3 billion people also has young people on its side, Mazhari said, noting that the young workforce can adapt quickly to new technologies.
Asia is home to some of the youngest in the world. In 2020, the median age of India’s population was 28.7 years, while Malaysia’s was 29.2 and Indonesia’s was 31.1. according to the Central Intelligence Agency. This compares to 38.5 in the US and 40.6 in the UK
As such, educational institutions should start equipping students for a skills-driven future, he said.
“There is enough knowledge between Bing and Google,” he said, referring to internet search engines. “What you can’t get are skills.”
“The infusion of skills would be the most critical change education systems need to make, which governments need to implement in quite meaningful ways.”
To support this transition, Microsoft and LinkedIn made a commitment last year to equip 25 million people with new digital skills through free online courses from Microsoft Learn, LinkedIn Learning and GitHub Learning Lab.
To date, it has helped 30 million people in 249 countries, including nearly six million in Asia, according to Microsoft.
Companies now plan to help 250,000 companies recruit based on skills in 2021 through new tools like the LinkedIn Skills Path, which allows employers to select candidates based on their skills.
LinkedIn’s Legrand said such applied assessments could reduce the subjectivity of hiring managers and improve diversity and inclusion.
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