KAMPALA – It appears that the Corona Virus pandemic has changed the world and many things. It started by announcements of lockdown by various countries, closure of businesses, laying off people and in the process making millions unemployed. The USA has the highest number of unemployed people in modern history as a result of the pandemic. As of June 12th, over 40 million Americans were reported out of employment representing 40% unemployment rate.
It is not only that people lost jobs but some businesses have closed and will never reopen. Many airlines have closed never to reopen. Some are laying off staff and seeking government support to reopen. Some businesses are restructuring themselves to be able to adapt to the new normal. Among the key instigators of change is technology. Technology is changing the way business is done. Before the pandemic, Amazon and Alibaba both online business giants had become some of the world’s reknown businesses creating some of the world’s richest people Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos. The trend and result of the lockdown has been online business.
The marketing profession has changed. The physical adverts and those in newspapers may soon become unwanted. Even the salespeople themselves who have been on the road from place to place may become redundant. Paying visits to doctors may soon become unnecessary as diagnosis can be done remotely and drugs delivered through online purchase. The Corona Virus has told us that the face to face with teachers is important but not necessary all the time. Online teaching is the way to go. Meetings can now be held with participants in different places.
Are careers safe with this rapid change in nature of human activity? Maybe they are not. What is happening to career resilience? People in different professions must observe their work requirements and continuously adopt and re-invent themselves. No career is safe. The world is changing at such a pace that no career is safe. All careers are prone to change.
While the practice is to select careers late in one’s education journey, careers are selected primarily based on education background of individuals. If you choose to become an engineer, you must study relevant subjects, join the profession and do what it requires to be in it. You must follow the rules and regulations to remain relevant. Many professions today require you to continuously learn so that you are up to date with the changes in the industry.
This is usually how a career is formed but there will be disruptions which are driven largely by technology. For some careers, the requirements have not changed much but others have changed tremendously. Take a case of lawyers, technology has made things easier for the profession but has not changed the discipline of law. But for engineers, today we have engineers especially those above the age of thirty five (35) years who studied analog technology today engineers study digital technology. The content in the discipline has changed. Doctors who did surgery ten (10) years and back were schooled in cutting and opening the body. Today endoscopy and laser surgery has changed this. What doctors, engineers and all other professionals need to do is to re- invent themselves to continue to be relevant.
What the Corona Virus has done is to turn the tables. It has made careers some obsolete. It requires some careers to change dramatically and it has also created new professions all over a sudden. Career resilience is nothing but re-invention but no career is safe.
The author, Maureen Tweyongyere is Director, Career & Skills Development Centre, Makerere University Business School