KAMPALA – The Coronavirus is a game-changer. It has invaded and affected the world over. It has exemplified how globally interconnected and interlocked we are. It is thought that nothing will remain the same. People are dying leaving families, organizations are closing, people are being layed off and nobody knows what will happen in the next twelve (12) months or so. Ordinarily, a career is something that somebody thinks through at some stage in their lives.
They go out to acquire qualifications to prepare for those careers. Now and again people make career changes. Some people move from being government employees to business, others to politics and business people may also move into politics. But nobody ordinarily thinks about such a major shift in career caused by the unknown and unforecasted reasons. Death is one factor that can disrupt careers; the death of a parent, spouse, an employer but this is within the imagination of individuals. Though still people rarely plan for it. How is the Corona Virus pandemic going to affect careers and the entire way of doing things? For those already working, they should expect changes in the workplace. Some organizations may close that is a factor in one’s career. Some organizations are going to use new technology. Are you ready to adapt to the new technology? Some organizations may simply lay off staff as they restructure and become slimmer due to market conditions.
Some organizations may layoff and use robots, drones and machinery to do work for them. Technology is also bringing driveless vehicles. Institutions of learning may have to rethink about the teaching strategies. But what is the impact of all this on the careers of individuals? Going ahead, the education system should be restructured to take into consideration the relevant skillset and future technology. This will enable educators to design curriculum relevant to the future. This will give an opportunity to students to select careers that match what is happening in the market but this is a problem. The speed at which technology changes today is so high that it maybe difficult for universities to develop relevant curriculum.
This calls for a link between research, institutions and universities so that the product development of these organizations is quickly understood by universities through their research so as to improve curriculum. The Corona Virus pandemic should be an eye-opener to policymakers, researchers and educators about the likely shifts in technology, jobs, products and processes. Unfortunately, we do not link policy to research. Developed countries have funds both from government and private institutions to attract research to study a variety of things but mainly focusing on science. This Corona Virus has been studied by universities world over. These governments and institutions go out into the world and offer research grants to brilliant Professors in Universities elsewhere in the world. The findings by these professors feed into policy and Human Resource plans of these governments abroad. It seems that many African governments do not base policies on research and therefore they have a problem.
As they develop policy they have no idea about the cause and implication of the problems they are solving. The education institutions have to provide relevant people for business, science and industry. This can only be achieved if there’s awareness of the market and societal needs. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent but the most adaptable to change” Charles Darwin
As we reflect on our careers, I wish to urge you to lookout for the Ministry of Health guidelines on how to avoid and stop the Corona Virus. Let us keep social distance, wash our hands regularly, avoid touching our faces, lets cover our mouths and noses. Together we shall defeat this pandemic.
Maureen Tweyongyere is the Director, Career and Skills Development Centre Makerere University Business School