News Article

The Post-Pandemic World Requires New Set of Skills

By Antonio Gozain | Wed, 10/13/2021 - 18:31

Technology has been gradually changing people’s personal lifestyles and approach to their jobs but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated these changes. Employers are looking for a new combination of soft and hard skills in candidates across all economic sectors, agreed experts.

“Everything is changing rapidly. The train is going too fast and if you do not catch it when you have the opportunity, you will not understand the new realities. New technologies have changed both companies and candidates. We have to catch the train with the necessary skills to play with the new professional rules,” said Alejandro Zenteno Sánchez, CHRO Of Grupo Lala.

Automation and the exploitation of digital technologies have been key factors driving companies’ operations. Advances in robotics and AI enable the automation of a greater range of tasks in industries across the world but human capital remains an essential factor. Expectations of candidates and companies have dramatically changed during the last two years, said Paulina Cavazos, Director People Ops of Ben & Frank, with companies looking for new skills that go beyond the technical ability to perform a job.

The pandemic required new solutions in companies, which needed collaborators that were able to continuously learn. “The ability to learn is important but the ability to unlearn, which is not discussed very much, is key in companies. During difficult times, it is important to eliminate those experiences or skills that are not useful at the time and adapt ourselves to the new needs,” said Antonio Madrid, HR Director of Soriana. Besides the ability to unlearn and the hard skills required to perform a job, other soft skills are required such as resiliency, short-term planification and execution of strategies, emotional intelligence, adaptation and flexibility in changing environments, said Madrid.

Technology not only changed the way companies and people work, but also the way that headhunters and recruiters look for candidates. “People are in the core of our business. Resumes are not the only way to hunt for talent anymore, candidates have become more creative and we have better tools to recruit talent,” said Geny Oceguera Rojas, Acting HR Head of Samsung Mexico. Leadership skills, effective communication, innovation and being able to transmit empathy are key in candidates, he said.

The pandemic also boosted the need of talented people in data science and similar subjects and people hungry of knowledge, explained Zenteno. “We are now immersed in data. Data science talent is highly required among industries and in Latin America we are quite underdeveloped in this regard. This is an area of opportunity for younger generations.”

The pandemic also forced companies to implement teleworking, which was not a common practice in Mexico. As reported by MBN, videoconference usage rate grew 25 times during 2020, opening big opportunities but requiring new communication skills. In Mexico, there are 87 million internet users, and the growth 10.2 percent growth in 2020 was the largest in the last 5 years, according to Asociación de Internet MX.

Teleworking opened big opportunities for companies to expand the labor market but it algo gave way to bigger challenges, said Sergio Arturo Arangua Quiroga, HR Country Director for OXXO México. “Organizations must focus on implementing and perfecting the new tools of collaboration. Also, we have to migrate those processes that were originally done in paper to digital platforms. In this sense, government regulations in Latin America have to catch up with the speed of technology.”

A Conscious Self-Development

While companies must provide tools for their employees and collaborators to learn continuously, individual efforts are required for the best adaptation to new circumstances. “We help collaborators be aware of the importance of continuously learning and developing skills. While providing all kinds of tools, such as conferences, projects, continuous feedback, coaching and mentoring, we favor self-development and reskilling,” said Madrid.

Technology plays a key role when it comes to continuous learning, said Arangua. Easy-access tools, such as Google and YouTube, have been especially helpful during personnel trainings. For example, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), employee-led groups created at MIT around common interests, create a positive work environment by actively contributing to the Institute's mission, values and efforts specific to inclusion, such as recruitment and retention, according to MIT. ERGs implementation, motivation and natural, intuitive coaching are key to boost talent’s conscious self-development, said Oceguera.

The post-pandemic labor world requires professionals with combined skills, from technical knowledge to correct communication, persuasion and ideas transmission through videoconferences. While a good skills set is highly relevant, the most important part for candidates before looking for jobs is to know themselves, detect strengths and areas of opportunity and set clear goals, agreed experts.

Antonio Gozain Antonio Gozain Journalist and Industry Analyst