Sir Sam Jonah highlights five useful skills for young people post-COVID-19

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Businessman Sir Sam Jonah says the global outbreak of COVID-19 presents unique challenges that require that young people most especially reinvent themselves and adapt to the new ways of doing things to remain relevant.

He said the prevailing situation has changed so many things and as such it will no longer be “business as usual.”

According to him, companies will now be looking at people with skills that are relevant to navigating the period.

While addressing the 9th Joint Graduation Ceremony of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre on the theme, “Providing Skills to Meet Business and Human Security Needs in Uncertain Times,” the businessman shared five skills and competencies he believes today’s youth need to stay relevant to industry.

Below are the five important skills highlighted in the address:

1. Flexibility and adaptability

Flexibility and adaptability are crucial skills that every employer will be keeping an eye out for. Being flexible and adaptable is something that most firms and employees have had to get used to over the last couple of months. As businesses globally see a sharp rise in the number of employees being able to work from home, it’s likely paradigm shift will last even after the pandemic is over. While being flexible in work was once aligned with geographic mobility, it is now about having an open mindset, being able to work well under pressure, adjusting to new and unexpected deadlines, prioritizing tasks and, in some instances taking on additional responsibilities. Employers will be paying attention to staff who are flexible in their approach and execution of their daily duties such as productively working from home, capable of working on the go, adapting to new work schedules and operating with hitherto unknown systems,

2. Tech-savvy

Undoubtedly, the workplace is rapidly becoming more tech focused, and we are now well and truly progressing to a fully realized digital age. Employers will not want to just invest in technologies but in people who understand and appreciate the importance of technology. Although it’s unlikely that all employees will need to know every system or platform, demonstrating a firm working knowledge of data literacy, computer programming, big data, Cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and more, will help catapult an employee’s marketability above their peers. Pre-coronavirus, the widening of digital skills gap was ostensible across business worldwide. 82 percent of job vacancies now require some minimum digital skills. COVID-19 has however accelerated the frantic need for specialist digital skillsets to help businesses become more aligned with today’s myriad technologies and platforms. Hence, these skillsets will be highly sought after by employers in this age.

3. Communication and emotional intelligence

Today’s employers will be seeking for graduates who are able to communicate fluently, effectively and have good emotional intelligence skills. Employers will be looking out for graduates who are professional, courteous, polite and conscientious in their work. One of the key considerations an employer will make during the hiring process is where you will fit into the current team and how well you will integrate. It is the job of new employees to convince employers that they are going to make the workplace happy and stress free, including that they are capable of working well with others.To have good emotional intelligence skills is to be aware of, and demonstrate empathy for, others’ emotions and behaviors which is crucial, especially when people are feeling uneasy. And this is also where good communication skills are critical; as many of employees continue to work from home, clarity in emails and at virtual meetings is a must to strengthen trust and retain high productivity levels.

4. Creativity and innovation

While machines and digital technologies are taking on roles in analytics and business operations, human beings remain a unique resource in their ability to think outside the box. Many years to come, the business landscape is going to need to evolve and adapt rapidly – for example, anyone aspiring to work in business will need to be able to tap into their creative mindset in order to steer a business through challenges and opportunities that it faces. Hence, expectations from employers will be graduates who not only go with the flow but are capable of thinking outside the box, coming up with creative decisions and are very innovative in their thought processes.

5. Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are extremely important in these times. Managers are not the only ones to possess leadership skills – anyone can demonstrate good leadership. One of the primary drivers that an employer has when employing someone is how passionate they are about the company’s vision. Leadership, in this respect, doesn’t necessarily mean the general manager or the department head. Instead, employers are looking for individuals that will create a sense of community within the team, led by example, and work towards the common company goal. Being self-aware and holding yourself accountable is particularly important during these challenging times.

As important as these skills are, they will not count for much in the absence of jobs and in this highly depressed global business environment, jobs can only be created in an environment which engenders peace and security.

The nexus between security and development is well settled and as Busumuru Kofi Annan brilliantly put it “development and security are inextricably linked.” Another global icon, Albert Einstein also observed that “peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law & order – in short, of government.” Ladies and gentlemen in this regard, African countries have had a chequered history. In these uncertain times countries, which will attract job creating investments are those which create the necessary condign conditions.

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