By Kaya 959 News
A new study has revealed that more South Africans are willing to retrain for new jobs as they look forward to the aftermath of the COVID -19 pandemic.
The study was undertaken by the Boston Consulting Group, The Network and CareerJunction.
It revealed that in SA, the interest in developing new skills is highest among those in the early- and mid-career phases.
Forty percent of respondents reported a negative impact on their work due to the effect of the coronavirus on employment, including a decrease in working time or being laid off, versus the average of 36% of global respondents.
Workers concerned about technology
It also showed that locally, highly educated South Africans and the older generation are the most negatively impacted groups in terms of COVID-19 and its effect on their employment status, which is the exact opposite of the global trend.
The new report based on the study, Decoding Global Reskilling and Career Paths, is the third in a series of publications that BCG and The Network have issued about the pandemic’s impact on people’s work preferences and careers.
The economic uncertainty touched off by the pandemic comes at a time when workers in just about every field already have some level of concern about being replaced by technology.
Principal and Recruiting Director at Boston Consulting Group in Johannesburg, Rudi van Blerk, said South Africa ranked among the top countries with the highest perceived risk of job automation.
Half of the respondents said that the risk of having their job automated has increased over the last year.
“This is more than the global average of 41% of respondents. Additionally, 31% of workers in the digitisation and automation fields have a significantly lower perceived risk of automation in South Africa than 46% globally,” he said.
The increased concern is especially common among people who work at financial institutions or at insurance or telecommunications companies.
Many question their career choices
According to one of the authors of the study and senior partner at BCG, Rainer Strack, the pandemic and the increasing speed of technological disruption have prompted people to question their chosen career paths.
Almost seven in ten people say they are open to retraining that would allow them to switch to completely different job roles.
This level of flexibility could help employers and governments that are worried about preparing their workforces for the future,” he said.
Retraining willingness is highest among workers who have fared worst during the pandemic or have the most concern about automation.
This includes workers in service-sector, customer service, and sales roles. Those in job roles seen as less vulnerable—health and medicine, social work, and science and research—generally aren’t as ready to switch careers.
Over a third of people laid off, working fewer hours
There are some geographic differences in the willingness to retrain as well.
People in developing economies, including many in Africa, are the most enthusiastic, with as many as three-quarters saying they would retrain to prepare themselves for a new job.
Europeans and Americans have the lowest level of willingness, the study shows, but even in those geographies the proportion of people who say they would retrain is generally above 50%.
More than a third of people worldwide have been laid off or forced to work fewer hours during the COVID-19 crisis, according to the survey.
The economic fallout has been worse for the young and least educated. Almost half of those under 20, and an equal proportion of people with only a high school degree, have lost income during the pandemic.