There are times when we see the world around us changing rapidly than ever before and the current COVID-19 pandemic is one such event. Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank have said that the COVID-19 pandemic is more akin to a natural disaster like a hurricane rather than a traditional financial or economic crisis. The virus has forced economies worldwide to shut down, with millions expected to lose their jobs in the next 4-5 weeks. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Kristalina Georgieva has called COVID-19 as the worst crisis since the Great Depression (1929-33) a century ago. Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics is highly pessimistic about 2020 and less optimistic about 2021, estimating a 5.9 percent rebound in 2021. Economists’ across the World are predicting employment losses in the immediate and near future and full economic recovery over the next 15-18 months. This means the World Economy would be at its buoyant best in the last quarter of 2021. A Reuters poll of 50+ economists in March 2020, has forecasted an average contraction of world economy by 1.2% with assured recovery after 15-18 months. Though the economic recovery is assured, its likely pattern of recovery is debatable. Will be it a ‘V’ shaped recovery (bounce back) or a ‘U’ shaped recovery (slow-burn recovery) or a ‘W’ shaped recovery (double deep recovery) is a point economist will continue to debate. What is guaranteed is assured recovery and enormous growth and employment opportunities 18 months down the line.
Further, technology and the digital landscape changes are going to make some jobs less relevant and others more crucial. The digital revolution is continuous and irreversible. Just look at the rapid rise of cryptocurrency and jobs related to it, which are already becoming obsolete and giving way to the new kid on the block – Blockchain. According to a January 2020 survey by Shine.com in collaboration with NHRD on the significance of re-skilling, 94 per cent of chief human resources officers (CHROs) feel Indians need to re-skill themselves to stay relevant and grow in their career. A FICCI-NASSCOM & EY report published in March 2020, predicts that nine per cent of India’s six hundred million estimated workforces would be deployed in jobs that do not even exist today, and 37 per cent would be in jobs that have radically changed skill sets by 2022.
The time is ripe to conquer pessimism, fear of job loss, and uncertainty by registering for new age management programs at reputed B-Schools to reskill oneself. MBA is one of the fastest growing post graduate qualifications in the world. An MBA degree from a reputed B-School will be an ideal preparation to ride the growth opportunities that an economic recovery will present in the future. After spending years on a set routine, perhaps, it is time to veer into something new by leveraging transferable skills and knowledge we have acquired over the years. The saying "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" rings true in trying times such as the present. Perhaps, we have grown too comfortable with our jobs and lifestyles. We should seize this opportunity to relook at our current competencies and acquire future skill sets. The father of modern management, Peter Drucker says that the only skill that will be important in the 21st century is that skill of learning skills, everything else becomes obsolete over time. This is the best time to reskill. We are multifaceted and our decision to enrol for a management program may help us in reinventing ourselves. We will be surprised with the refreshing change and plethora of opportunities this may bring. We should not lose hope, as all storms; this storm of COVID-19 will also pass. We should not miss the moment. The best time to reskill is ‘NOW’.
Prof. Dhananjay Kumar Singh