WE HAVE reached unprecedented numbers of company closures, business cessations, either temporary or permanent, and displaced workers around the globe due to Covid-19. As many parts of the world hit massive recession, leaders and citizens alike saw how numbers of digitally jobs as well as internet traffic have exponentially increased. According to International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates, workplace closures in the second quarter of 2020 resulted in the loss of 305 million jobs worldwide and 94 percent of the global workforce was affected due to Covid-19. These figures are part of the 2020 issue of “Digital Skills Insights” prepared by the Capacity and Digital Skills Development Division (CSD) within the Digital Knowledge Hub Department of the Telecommunication Development Bureau of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Businesses that can be carried out virtually or online shifted towards remote working environments. The ILO estimated that about 18 percent of workers are doing jobs and are in locations which lend themselves to teleworking, and numbers are said to be significantly higher in developed countries, in large organizations and among higher-income workers. According to the ITU, however, teleworking also brings challenges related to connectivity, equipment and skills – apart from those related to home-based working arrangements.
This is a good opportunity for Bacolod and Negros Occidental to explore, along with other countryside locations, in a country where almost seventy percent of information and communications technology (ICT) corporations are located in Metro Manila.
Teleworking or remote employment now allows individuals with the necessary skills to handle the requirements of big corporations even when they are working from home (WFH) or remotely, meaning outside of the main address of their employers.
With the upsurge of remote employment opportunities, countryside locations can now more aggressively share in the pie of employment opportunities that used to be available only in big cities before. For example, last week a big company who planned to expand outside Manila and included Bacolod in their shortlist informed me that a physical expansion would not be feasible due to the pandemic. However. The good news is the requirement for thousands of jobs is still there and that they wish to offer remote employment opportunities to residents of Bacolod and Negros Occidental.
Experts now see that there is a clear recognition of the benefits of working from home by the public and private sector organizations alike, enough to push them to reconsider how they organize their work and remote working arrangements may continue to some extent beyond the pandemic.
Here are some statistics from the ITU Digital Skills Insights. According to World Economic Forum research, at least 133 million new workplace roles may be generated globally by 2022 as a result of the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms. There is a strong demand for technical skills like programming and app development, along with skills that computers cannot easily master such as creative thinking, problem-solving and negotiating. More than half (54 percent) of all employees will require significant reskilling by 2022. Closing the global skills gap could add USD 11.5 trillion to global GDP by 2028.
Given that we will have new work roles, new skills are also required, especially digital skills. A number of essential digital skills are required even for food delivery drivers, online sellers and marketers such as smartphone technical operations, the ability to manage information, and the ability to communicate online, critical thinking and problem-solving, online safety and e-payment and e-banking.
As nations embrace the new normal, the Digital Skills Insights 2020 looks at three major steps – higher educational institutions (HEI) learning initiatives adaptation for a digitally skilled workforce, corporate lifelong learning initiatives for a digitally skilled workforce and vocational training initiatives for digital skills workforce matching. The ultimate aim is to move beyond just learning digital skills but eventually possessing digital literacy, a topic for another column. In the coming weeks, I shall share the other salient points of the ITU publication. In the meantime, I am earnestly hoping that Bacolodnons and Negrenses gear up for the new normal in the aspect of work.