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PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) T&T has argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changes in how and where we work, noting that for many organisations the crisis has brought to the fore the discrepancy between the skills people have and those needed for jobs in the digital world.

In a statement the company noted: “Upskilling the workforce to bridge the digital divide is a complex problem that requires business leaders, governments and educators to work together to make the world a more resilient, capable and inclusive place.”

According to PwC T&T partner Zia Paton upskilling is more than just training, it’s about gaining the knowledge, skills and experience for new and transformed roles, and being equipped to participate and adapt in our new digital world.

Paton revealed that this would require public, private and social sectors to work together to equip their teams with the skills they need to succeed.

The release noted that Paton is currently leading a team to conduct Job Evaluations across the Civil Service of T&T­—a foundational exercise to align the compensation and classification of close to 2,000 job positions in the Civil Service with the requirements of a modern service.

Meanwhile PwC’s Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation, Bhushan Sethi articulated that organisations need to prepare their people to build back better and differently. He contended that the creation of ‘good jobs’ should be a priority in this new world.

Sethi said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have devastating health and economic impacts across geographies and industries resulting in significant loss of current and future jobs.”

PwC’s Joint Global Leader acknowledged that COVID-19 has hurt industries and livelihoods, with millions of jobs lost and many more that could be lost in the aftermath. He said that almost every G20 nation is expecting recession, which would accelerate the displacement of workers.

Sethi continued: “Before the pandemic, while unemployment rates were falling across G20 nations, the hollowing out of middle income work was starting to ring alarm bells.”

According to Sethi, many workers who were displaced by automation and new operating models and facing a lack of time and support to acquire the skills to pivot toward other ‘good jobs’, were forced to accept precarious, lower-skilled, lower paid jobs.

He added that these jobs during the pandemic, are often on the front lines and have greater potential exposure to the virus. The auditing firm executive highlighted that jobs will likely return as economies recover, but he note that “the quality of those jobs is up to us.”

Sethi commented that policymakers should urgently focus on: agreeing on a measure of job quality, understanding the benefits of better aligning human workers with the value they can deliver; and guiding labour market transformation as economies stabilise post-COVID-19.

Both Paton and Sethi pointed to two key themes around digitisation and upskilling in PwC’s recent CEO Panel Survey, which indicated that CEOs plan to make their companies more digital and virtual, where they would digitise core business operations and processes, and add digital products and services.

The Panel Survey also uncovered that these CEOs planned to develop a more flexible and employee oriented workforce, where they would increase the share of remote or contingent workers, and expand employee health, safety and wellness programmes.

Sethi remarked: “It is clear, remote collaboration and automation are here to stay. This means we must accept that investment in upskilling workers—so they can pivot to ‘good jobs’—is as important as investing in technology and automation.”