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Locked Down by Covid 19 precautions – so what can I do?

Blog by Tim Dawkins, Business Development Manager ASEAN Region at NOCN

It's mid-March and the CoVid 19 virus is set to run its course for the next 3,6 or 9 months depending on your choice of expert, but the next 2 months will not be business as usual for the training and skills sector. By sharing my thoughts on the impact on the skills sector, I am not looking to dismiss the immediate impact of the virus which will mean the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods around the globe. But as I sit in my apartment in Kuala Lumpur on partial ‘lock down’, I am wondering what I can do to support my customers and to progress my business. I think it’s natural for us to focus on what we can influence when the wider picture is so beyond anything we have ever encountered before. The answer to ‘how I can support the sector I work in?’ is simple, it’s by doing what we all should be doing all of the time, scanning the horizon of the skills sector and trying to plan for the future.

When the virus starts to release its grip on daily life, and we start to get back to work and life as before(!), how do we ensure we have the best chance of relaunching our sector. How will the world of education and skills have changed and what will be the new priorities?

Immediately we can see that people’s mode of working will change as more people operate from home, we will see a much wider long-term adoption of home working. Although this will be triggered by the virus, its long-term benefits to employers and employees will be the reason it sticks. This will trigger a training need for digital skills, infrastructure technicians, and new line management skills and performance management skills, as managers adapt working with a remote team.

Smart employers could be using this time to build digital skills into their workforce to be ready for the big restart post CoVid. Could the virus be the real ‘kick-starter’ for the digital transformation so much talked about here in South East Asia.

There, already is and will continue to be global investment into medical research into the causes, spread, control and prevention of global viruses. But will we also see investment into the skills required for testing and logistics of delivering medical testing on a national scale. Might we see new approaches to border and immigration control and the tracking and management of people on the move, this is also being driven by the UK leaving the EU.

One inevitable outcome will be a need for increased disaster recovery training, giving businesses the skills to develop better business continuity plans and succession plans. The fear of a global virus happening again, and the need for industry to be a resilient as possible, will be very high.

There is also the unforeseen evolution of some job roles which will start to redefine them. This was illustrated yesterday when a security guard at my apartment was responsible for carrying out brief health checks on all people entering the business. Fortunately, I passed the test. But it made me realise that my access to the building and potentially my freedom was in the hands of this security guard and his ability to assess me medically.

The sad truth is that businesses will fail, and need to downsize, under the economic pressures caused by the virus, we're seeing this in sectors such as the airline and hospitality industries. There will need to be government supported retaining packages to help people get the skills they need to find new jobs. Digital skills again will be key to this, but also retraining for new careers. Regions dependant on tourism alone to drive the local economy are very quickly and painfully discovering that they need more variety in their local economies to be sustainable. This multi-job approach will also flow down to the individual who will want to know they have income alternatives and are not just reliant on one stream of income. So we can predict a growth in the gig economy and people will need the skills to operate successfully in this fluid employment model.

Some could read this as being a hard-hearted piece, looking only commercially to future opportunities, and not responding to the huge impact on people. There will be a need for us to be more compassionate and understanding. Many people will be dealing with loss as a result of the virus, and the psychological impact of forced isolation and working alone. There will be a need for counselling skills both in the workplace and as a health service resource. We’re all going through the virus in one way or another and it will leave an impact on all of us.

I appreciate that this is a very short piece looking very briefly at some very big topics. Each industry sector will have its own skills challenges as we emerge from this crisis. NOCN Group has wide experience in the development and recognition of skills and training programmes. If we can help support you in any way, please let me know.4


Connect with Tim Dawkins on Linkedin here.