The Changing Landscape of the Labour Market and Post-Covid Digital Services
There is no doubt that 2020 has caused economic and health shocks that have vibrated across the world. Economies have been severely impacted due to disruptions in the job markets with millions of people unemployed across the world and millions that are sure to suffer from the global recession. The economy as we once knew it has changed and many people that were already disadvantaged in the workforce are expected to be impacted the most.
This is a crucial moment in time and there are choices that must be made now in relation to our future. When we look at the technological advances and innovations that lie at our doorstep, we must figure out ways to get them unleashed. Individuals can be re-skilled and this will be especially helpful for the millions of displaced workers. These individuals will be provided with hope and the ability to play a vital role in society. They will be saved from destitution with a roadmap towards a better future.
It’s time to push a reset button for the entire world so that inequality in terms of the workplace and earnings is left in the past. A new socio-economic system must be created that is sustainable to all and it must lead to economic prosperity. It’s more important now than it ever has been to tap into the potential of individuals that can and are willing to work but need to be reskilled in digital services in order to enter the workplace once again.
The Covid-19 Pandemic and the 2020 Global Recession
As the entire world shut down and countries were forced into lockdowns, the outlook of the job market became very uncertain. This has certainly changed the outlook for the future in terms of skills, jobs and the adoption of online technology during the upcoming 5 years.
The World Economic Forum conducted a thorough study regarding the future of the labour force based on views from strategy officers, human resources experts and leading chief executives using data science extrapolated from private and public sources. The report presents a clear picture of both the future and current outlook for skills and jobs. Important information is presented regarding a number of key industry sectors including technology and AI.
The Coming AI Revolution and Work
Emotions about the future of work as it relates to automation and artificial intelligence are sharply divided. There are those who fear that Al will eliminate jobs. Others are jubilant about the possibility that handing off low level jobs to robots and computers will free humans to pursue more meaningful work. No matter which camp you are in, one thing is undeniable. Artificial Intelligence is the future.
The World Economic Forum has spent the past 5 years tracking the implementation of new technology in the workplace including automation and artificial intelligence. Both non-humanoid robots and Al have slowly become mainstays across a range of industries. Al is seeing the highest adoption in healthcare, transportation, digital information and communications.
In the Forum’s recent Future of Jobs Survey, 8% of the respondents said that they expected to adopt Al by 2025 while 10% said they plan to add non-humanoid robots such as drones. At the same time, 11% plan to adopt the use of humanoid robots.
Forecasts show, however, that Al will not completely displace human labor. Rather, it will change work and the way we do it.
Data Science Shows Many Jobs Will Become Redundant
The Forum’s Future of Jobs Survey indicated that there are many areas where Al technology will affect availability of future work. Of the respondents, 43% said that they plan to reduce their current workforce using automation and Al.
Transportation is one of the industries expected to be transformed the most by Al and automation. The most obvious area is autonomous vehicles. These vehicles have been touted for their ability to reduce accidents and traffic congestion, decrease carbon emissions and increase passenger safety. Because robot drivers don’t need to take breaks or clock off after so many hours on the road, they can also move shipments more quickly. Currently there are over 3.5 million people work as truckers in the US.
In some cases the pandemic has accelerated the transition from human workers to Al. In the San Francisco Bay Area, human workers previously manually collected tolls and provided change to drivers. Due to rising COVID-19 numbers in the area, however, authorities have decided to use these toll booths to avoid the risk of infection. Tolls are now collecting the fees using FasTrak tags that drivers mount on their windows or drivers may receive a bill in the mail at the address linked to their license plate. The move has eliminated 185 toll worker jobs.
Areas Where Humans Will Retain an Edge
There are still several tasks where human abilities have an edge over algorithms and machines. These include decision-making, reasoning, communicating, interacting, managing and advising.
Facebook uses Al for a lot of its moderation. The algorithms, however, usually aren’t enough to detect the full meaning of a post that may violate their terms of service. Facebook copes with this by employing around 7,500 people to moderate content that can’t be parsed with Al alone.
Al is also changing many existing jobs instead of eliminating them. In the field of finance, analysts have traditionally spent a great deal of time on repetitive but necessary tasks like studying legal contracts or poring through large data sets. Al systems have the ability to automate a great deal of that work. The result is that data science analysts will have more time to dedicate to problem-solving and creating more value for their firms.
As Old Jobs Disappear, New AI Jobs Will Be Created
One of the other common predictions is that Al will create new jobs just as old ones are eliminated. The CEO of X.ai, the maker of an Al-based virtual assistant, has observed that 2/3 of the jobs in his firm are ones that did not exist a few years ago.
Chatbot trainers are amongst those jobs that have been created because of the existence of Al. Chatbots now handle interactions that range from basic customer service to virtual assistance to appointment setting. As many have observed, however, the bots are often stilted and sometimes give inappropriate answers to questions. To help change this, a wave of start-ups is now training these chatbots in empathy and nuanced communication.
As Al becomes more prevalent, its impact will be felt in a wide range of industries. Many jobs that were previously performed by humans will be replaced by artificial intelligence. Other jobs in support of those Al tasks will also emerge. Most analysts say that the coming of Al is not going to be a seismic event where one day all jobs are suddenly replaced. Rather, it will emerge a little at a time, with one function replaced, another changed and another one created. While the path cannot easily be predicted now, it will gradually make itself known through a series of small but significant changes.
The Future of Digital Technology
The adoption of technology will tend to remain the same and there is some growth predicted in certain areas. Some of the rising trends that are expected to continue include the following:
- Big data
- Non-humanoid robots
- Cloud computing
- Artificial intelligence
By 2025 the adoption of new technology will transform jobs on a global level as well as the skill sets required by employers. The economic disruption due to the pandemic, along with the adoption of this new digital services technology, will cause a major transformation to the workforce. By 2025 we can expect to see the job load shared by machines and humans to be equal. Many companies will be making changes to their value chains, the workforce size and their locations in the upcoming 5 years.
There will be new jobs created but there will also be many jobs destroyed. When compared to previous years, there will be a slowdown in job creation and an increase in job distractions. More redundant jobs will be left by the curbside while the new and emerging professions will increase with a 5.7% growth rate. It’s estimated that 85 million jobs will be negatively affected by the shift towards using more machines but at the same time 97 million new job roles will be created that have been adapted to the new skill set required for algorithms, machines and humans.
Some of the skills that will be most in demand as these employment roles make a shift include:
- Critical thinking
- Stress tolerance
- Active learning
While some workers will need to be reskilled over a time period of approximately 6 months, others will learn these new skill sets while on the job.
Short-Term and Long-Term Labour and Digital Trends
The global pandemic has led to lockdowns across the world and governments were forced to legislate partial or full closures of businesses. This has created an intense shock to labour markets, societies and economies as businesses have had to deal with a shift from physical face-to-face business transactions to online transactions. The patterns of consumers have been altered dramatically as a result of the pandemic, which has strengthened online businesses while at the same time forcing many brick-and-mortar stores to either close down or to shift their operating business patterns to a digital presence.
The most effected have been businesses that did not have the large reserves of cash available to weather the storm. Many were small or medium-sized enterprises and businesses in the hospitality and restaurants sectors as well as tourism and retail industries.
The Effects of Covid-19 on Unemployment
On a global level, each country has taken a different approach to tackling Covid-19 so each one has a different trajectory in terms of the disruption to the labour market. Many countries have been providing government support measures for wages to help workers that had to stop working temporarily during lockdowns. This has helped to keep the unemployment figures down and has helped economies that offer these support measures but once they are lifted it is unsure whether the unemployment figures will spike significantly.
There were many changes that occurred with business practices during 2020 and these new practices are expected to continue. Businesses across the world and their economies will be experiencing a new normal based on the dramatic changes that have occurred.
Job Automation and Remote Workers
As well, employers that are planning to accelerate their projects in terms of job automation will be using more remote workers. According to projections made by the International Labour Organization, 195 million employees are expected to become displaced while newer jobs with different skill sets are introduced.
Also according to the Future of Jobs Survey for 2020, there are a number of similarities when viewing the increase of redundant jobs and the increase of strategic job roles. A growing demand of workers will be required in the following fields:
- Robotics engineers
- Machine learning specialists
- AI specialists
- Data analysts
- Specialists in digital transformation
- Application and software developers
- Analysts of information security
- Internet of things specialists
As you can see by the list provided above, these roles reflect the need for workers that are skilled and ready for the increase in job automation and employees that are capable of handling cyber security risks.
There are other roles that will become much more needed within different industries including the following:
Consumer sector – Social media, digital SEO specialists and e-commerce experts
Automotive sector – Materials engineers
Energy sector – Renewable energy engineers
Healthcare – Geneticists and biologists
Financial services – FinTech engineers
Metals and mining – Remote sensing technicians and scientists
The job roles that are expected to become increasingly redundant within the next 5 years are, for the most part, consistent with the roles that were becoming redundant in 2018. The jobs that are expected to experience this downward decline include the following:
- Data entry clerks
- Executive and administrative secretaries
- Payroll clerks
- Bookkeeping and accounting clerks
- Auditors and accountants
- Administrative managers
- Business service managers
- Factory and assembly workers
- Hybrid and remote Workers
A Newly-Transformed Digital and Remote Landscape
The emergence of the fourth Industrial Revolution along with the recession that we have experienced due to Covid-19 has driven digitalization and remote working to new heights on a day-to-day basis. There has been a massive shift to e-commerce and remote working. As a result, the marketplace for remote workers has risen significantly. At the same time, work-at-home employees have had to deal with challenges with a new working environment. This shift took place rapidly and there were different struggles involved with working from home.
During the pandemic, 3 different categories of workers has arisen including:
- Essential workers
- Remote workers
- Displaced workers
Essential workers are those that make deliveries, work in the healthcare industry, agricultural workers, medical goods manufacturers and employees in grocery stores. Remote workers include individuals that have been able to keep their jobs by working remotely from home. Displaced workers refers to those that have lost their jobs either on a short-term basis or unfortunately on a long-term basis. Many of the displaced workers come from the tourism and travel, retail, service and hospitality sectors.
Anyone falling into one of the 3 categories listed above has faced a shift in workplace practices and many need to be reskilled to face the challenges. A lot of displaced workers are dealing with uncertainty and find themselves in a position where they may need to shift to new digital job roles. Remote workers have to deal with mental and physical health challenges due to the new changes while essential workers have had to re-skill in order to learn how to remain physically safe while dealing with others during the pandemic.
It’s estimated that 24% of employees have not been able to continue in their current work roles while 44% aren’t in a position where they can work remotely. The need to expand remote work availability has risen as a result.
Location also has a lot to do with the ability to work remotely. In the case of high income countries like Switzerland and the United States, approximately 60% of employees are not able to work from home. This number increases to 80% to 90% for workers from countries with lower incomes such as Bangladesh and Egypt.
The Demand for Remote Digital Workers
There is also a difference between the industries in terms of which types of employees can work from a remote location. Some of the industries that don’t offer as many opportunities to work from home include warehousing, transportation, construction, agriculture, food services, accommodation and retail. The sectors that have a higher number of job roles that can be worked remotely include digital services jobs such as insurance, finance, professional services and information. This means that more people from the sectors that don’t have the opportunities for remote work are more likely to lose their jobs.
The demand for remote-based workers continues to increase quickly and reports show that since 2011 the number of people that have been given access to work from home has almost doubled. While more employers are looking for people that can work remotely, a larger amount of individuals are also seeking work at home jobs.
The pandemic has certainly taught the world that there is a new generation of hybrid work possible and that it can be done on a large scale. There are some business leaders, however, that believe that remote working will affect productivity in a negative way. There may be many different factors involved in this lowering of productivity, however, since it is occurring during a sweeping, global pandemic.
People are concerned about the virus and its life-threatening potential and parents are having to deal with working from home while at the same time taking care of their children that can no longer go to school.
Businesses that have already been set up for remote work practices already have approaches in place to handle this new normal. Other businesses, however, need to start from the beginning to establish coordination and communication flows and this can all have a negative impact on overall productivity.
Digital Communications Have become a Priority
With this new way of dealing with business and having workers establishing digital communities, a new normal is being constructed. As we move forward into the future it will be easier to have remote and hybrid access for workers since the underlying construction of the new business practice has already been put in place. Business leaders are now understanding the importance of having a workable digital services structure in place should anything else shut down the world such as another pandemic. Many are taking steps to build an online community amongst employees and tackling the challenges that have come about by this shift over to remote working.
The world has changed and businesses must come to grips with these new changes in terms of remote working and business expansion. People have changed their shopping habits during the pandemic and have learned how to meet their needs online. With more people working from home on their computers, it’s easier to make a purchase online and much more convenient. Companies must realize that remote work is only one part of the equation and take consumer spending habits into account.
A New Era of Digital Marketing and AI
The data analysis of emerging skill sets required for employment opportunities shows a rise in the number of digital marketing areas. The new and emerging high-growth roles include the following:
- Web development
- Digital marketing
- Product marketing
- AI marketing
- Graphic design
- AI data and analysis
- Software development
- Cloud computing
- Content production
- Social media assistants and coordinators
- Information management
- Data science
- Data storage technologies
- Development tools
- Much more
Uncovering the Effects of Covid-19
Government policies have been focusing on retaining staff for businesses through the use of wage compensation packages. Once these expire, only then will it become evident the extent of the damage that has been inflicted on the labour market. These are temporary measures that have provided a lifeline to workers but future recovery must also be put in place to ensure that businesses survive post-Covid.
The pandemic has uncovered the fact that consumers still want a wide variety of services and products. People are shopping for essential items online but they are also spending money on small luxuries that make them happy. An appetite remains for items that give people something to look forward to.
There has been an unprecedented rise in digital sales during the crisis and this has changed the way many consumers shop for goods. This ongoing growth has made many businesses change how they conduct business.
In many countries streets grew quiet as a new norm of business habits were unveiled. Businesses must find a way to capitalize on the new norm in order to compete against their rivals.
SEO Digital Services Must Meet the Requirements of the New Norm
Websites must be updated in order to reflect the new current conditions. There must be a renewed effort on building up audiences and the messages need to be more targeted than they ever have been before. Building recognition and trust must be at the forefront of digital marketing and companies must understand that in order to survive, new business measures and strategies must be put in place.
SEO services are crucial for any business to see long-term growth. The importance of websites must be recognized since they are often the first touch point of a consumer’s journey towards making a purchase.
Data Analysis Must Be Kept As a Priority
In the past, finding the best location for a storefront was the key component of marketing for a business. Now, in this day of digital marketing, the emphasis must be on data science analysis. There must be structures and strategies implemented to show how well the marketing is performing so that regular changes can be made to boost sales. Data must be kept regarding where the sales are coming from and the types of people that are purchasing the products and services being offered.
Digital SEO is now the new norm for expansion. Businesses must now regard Google search as a storefront location where being on the first page means everything. Without the right location, consumers are not able to find a business and the company will suffer. The data analysis for SEO must be strong to ensure that a website rises up the ranks on the search engines and maintains its position once it reaches the first page.
Understanding Post Covid Consumers
It’s not only business practices and consumer spending habits that must be taken into account as we move towards a post-Covid future. Businesses must now consider post pandemic consumers in accordance with their specific needs and motivations. Consumers can be categorized into 5 different personas that should be acknowledged. These include the following:
Strugglers – These are people that are very concerned about their finances and place it as a priority. Their health and well-being come in second place.
Safety seekers – These are consumers that are concerned about Covid-19 in terms of the safety and health for themselves along with their families.
Returners – Returners are individuals that are simply focused on having things go back to the way they used to be as soon as possible.
Opportunities – When you consider this classification, think of people that are optimistic and view the pandemic as a way to set a reset button on their spending habits and lifestyle.
Simplifiers – This term refers to individuals that are less concerned about consumerism following the pandemic.
Businesses must be able to take consumer reactions to the pandemic into account when mobilizing their digital marketing on a large scale. Different messages must be sent out that address the unique needs of all these post-Covid consumer classifications.
Post-Covid Digital Marketing Trends
The world is now making tracks towards overcoming the pandemic and businesses must be prepared with a new strategy. Brick-and-mortar stores shouldn’t expect to simply open their doors and see crowds of people coming in through the floodgates once the pandemic has been handled. Consumers have become used to shopping online and every business must be ready to handle this new normal.
Stabilizing decisions must be put into place as businesses get ready to reopen in a new environment. Companies must now respect the fact that rapid unexpected changes can happen almost overnight and crisis management must be able to be implemented quickly. Marketing strategies must take on new changes to reflect the new normal. Some of these strategies would include the following:
Optimizing budget spends – Recognizing that digital marketing is the future of the company
Personalized communications – Accelerate adoptions to digital channels in order to deliver the proper message to the right consumers in real time
Use empathy to engage with customers – Use data in order to better understand the current needs and situations that customers are facing
Provide useful apps – Keep in touch with consumers by providing useful apps that will help build the brand.
Companies must be able to successfully normalize and stabilize. The goal is to grow and emerge as a more agile, digital services or product company while preparing for the post-crisis new normal. Building up a data-driven culture within the business will not only help employees but will also help consumers understand why the decisions you are making during the stressful times are trustworthy.
Key Takeaways of the Post-Covid Future for Labour Markets and Digital Businesses
There is a new future ahead and a variety of different issues to handle. Some of the changes in business organizations that must be recognized include:
1. The focus must be put on stabilization during rapid and unexpected change.
2. The safety and health of employees must be kept as a priority.
3. A structure for working remotely must be put into place.
4. Digital marketing must be kept as a priority.
5. Communication with customers must be laser-focused and empathetic.
6. Strategies must be worked out to keep data analysis at the forefront.
Individuals, governments and businesses should all consider the types of conditions that the labour and consumer market must support in order to build a new equilibrium. This equilibrium must take into account employees, algorithms, robots and consumer spending habits. A lot of change has been occurring and the more insight we have into the future, based on data science analysis, the more able companies and individuals will be to handle them.
Learn more about digital services and how they can help businesses expand during these challenging times at qodemedia.com.
Qode Media Editorial Team