The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in economic problems and sudden unemployment, exacerbating labour market disruptions and increasing inequality. People must develop their skills to thrive in today’s increasingly competitive workplace.
Simultaneously, the COVID-19 situation has also stressed the need for skill development since it will assist the workforce in finding employment that matches their competency levels. As a result, governments in many countries are implementing skill development initiatives. But how can these initiatives help to save the world post-COVID-19?
Nowadays, many governments recognise that for their nations to attain or retain their status as high-income countries, they must produce better-quality goods and provide better services, resulting in more significant revenues and profits. Many of them are also concerned with establishing social equity, social inclusion, and poverty alleviation. A skilled workforce and an education and training system are required to prepare young people for employment to achieve all the above.
Skills development initiatives can help countries become more competitive by increasing employability and labour productivity, leading to structural change and economic growth. Having a high-quality workforce does not only promote an increase in productivity but also encourage foreign investment. Thus, skills development could create jobs for the present workforce and increase investment in the education and training system.
Furthermore, skill development initiatives could help reduce or overcome current skills challenges. These challenges are:
1. Mismatch between skills and job requirements – One issue that may arise nowadays is that employees’ skills during training may not match the job requirement. This could result in a shortage of skills in specific industries and a surplus of employees with skills that aren’t in high demand, thus leading to unemployment.
2. Limited role of social partners – There is a lack of active engagement of employers’ and workers’ organisations in many low-income and middle-income countries. Unfortunately, these organisations must ensure that relevant and adequate training is provided.
3. Training of poor quality and relevance – In some countries, training may be of poor quality and relevance due to poor quality control, a shortage of or underqualified instructors, poor working conditions for trainers, and obsolete qualifications, curriculum, training materials, and techniques.
4. Training opportunities are scarce – In countries with poor literacy and educational levels, a dominating informal economy, political unrest, and considerable distances, access to training are often limited. Women and minority groups may even encounter additional difficulties to get access to exercise to improve their skills.
5. Lack of coordination in the system – National and regional governments, businesses, employees, and non-governmental organisations are involved in skill development. However, their activities often overlap in developing countries and are poorly coordinated. The inability to link the supply and demand of skills reduces the beneficial effect on employment and productivity.
It is also vital for countries to have a National Skill Development Policy rather than simply creating or upgrading skills development programmes. Firstly, it can help a country to have a shared vision of the skills system it wishes to establish. The policy will also help convey a set of fundamental adjustments that must be implemented so that the system’s aims for skill development are coordinated.
Additionally, bringing together diverse government organisations and education and training providers can help promote a more holistic approach to human resource planning. A national policy can also help to outline the importance of skills development to employment and other larger developmental goals. Finally, it encourages skills development and promotions.
Hence, it can be safely said that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for skills development initiatives. From helping people find jobs that fit their competency levels to supporting the overall economy, these initiatives could be essential in a world post-COVID-19. It can also help to reduce or overcome current skills challenges. Finally, governments should also have a National Skill Development Policy for numerous reasons, such as outlining the importance of skills development.