While conventional calendars employed the ‘Before the Common Era’ (BCE) and ‘Anno Domini’ (AD) system, the coronavirus outbreak has revealed a new sense of time. “Post-COVID” is the beginning of a new epoch, transforming economies, cultures, and behaviours and expediting the arrival of a new type of work: digital work, otherwise known as digiwork.
Primarily, the pandemic accelerates the inevitable growth of technology and happily reaps the benefits of digital transformation in different private and public sectors. The rise of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation, in tandem with COVID-19, is disrupting the global job market but also raising concerns about employment in less-digital sectors. Although some jobs will indeed become redundant, the good news is that several studies claim that the fourth industrial revolution will create more jobs than it automates.
Additionally, as digital continues apace, more opportunities arise to re-envision workplace and employment, setting the stage for digital work. The gig economy and freelancing in general, once thought of as a last resort for those unable to obtain conventional employment, are on the rise as they prove to be more efficient, flexible, resilient, and inclusive. Specifically, the “platform economy” is gaining considerable traction. By matching the skills of workers to the needs of employers, this work arrangement has the ability to streamline employers’ business processes, empower workers, and hugely boost the overall working experience.
These changes, therefore, require people to shift from jobs of the past to those of the future. As such, investing in a “reskilling revolution” is more urgent than ever to help workers navigate the new world of work. While development actors must train recipients in areas like data science, IoT, and AI, special emphasis must also be placed on cross-cutting digital work skills like bidding, sales, quality assurance, customer relations, and project management, which allow workers to adapt and thrive across different digital job roles and responsibilities.
At Leaders International (LI), with funding from the United States Department of State, we recognize the importance of digital work skills in helping workers stay competitive and be able to pivot to new careers. Through the “Digital Avenue” project, LI particularly realizes the significance of doing so in developing countries like Jordan who stand to gain the most from digital work. By providing Jordanians with opportunities to learn, we can create pathways into jobs with more opportunities, higher wages, accelerated growth, and less vulnerability to disruptions like COVID-19.
The new Digital Avenue project aims to bridge the gap in Jordanians’ access to the digital job market by providing the necessary training and capacity building. We are currently helping more than 500 Jordanians enroll in an advanced training and mentorship programme in addition to promoting their expertise and connecting them to digital job markets. We specifically focus on underrepresented demographics such as women and youth (i.e. those with the highest barriers to opportunity) in an effort to facilitate an inclusive, sustainable economic recovery for Jordan.
This article was funded by a grant from the United States Department of State. The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of Leaders International and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.