Diversification of Skills is Critical – Now More than Ever

Posted On 05/07/2020 by St. Pete Chamber

by: Jodi McLean | Director of Strategic Initiatives | The Symphony Agency

As our new reality continues to unfold by the hour, I’d like to point out that we are not necessarily experiencing a reduction in jobs, but a shift in the current needs and demands. I’ve always thought it is important to have a fallback trade or skill, in case I found myself without a job in my chosen profession.

With my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, I came out of college with a piece of paper, a lot of debt and no practical skills. I ended up supplementing that Communications degree with some technical training at a two-year broadcast school, where I learned to edit video and audiotape with a utility knife and my nimble fingers. This skill was mastered a year before digital equipment took over my technical school in the 1990’s, so I waved goodbye to the relevance of that particular skill. However, I also learned how to speak naturally into a microphone and set up eye-pleasing camera shots, which has come in handy with future career moves, and those skills continue to be valuable to me today.

As the ultimate fallback, I learned to bartend and wait tables in order to pay for my technical school and figured THAT particular skill would be one that would never fail to be relevant in society. Enter a global pandemic. Who knew?

Point being, we must adapt. We must adapt right now, and we must be prepared to adapt throughout our lives. There are industries right now that are so overwhelmed with demand that they don’t even have time to recruit more staff. There are technical schools teaching trades that are very much in-demand at this moment, especially in industries like home services and healthcare.

Home service providers like HVAC companies, plumbers and builders are going to experience their usual summer peaks in April, and the peak is going to continue through to the fall. Likely, most of these industry professionals won’t be expecting this increased demand so early on…but the hoarded rolls of toilet paper have to go somewhere, and with entire families home all day, 7 days a week, the AC is working extra hard right now. Maybe this doesn’t sound like sexy work, but it’s going to be vital, critical work, and consumers are going to value these services above most others in order to stay comfortable in their homes for an extended period. These are secure jobs.

Healthcare has a lot of opportunity for trained technicians that won’t require a college degree, and often a certificate that can be earned in a few short weeks or months. Here is just one list that I found with a quick Google search: https://www.aimseducation.edu/blog/8-healthcare-certificates-in-1-year-or-less/  Healthcare is going to be relevant as long as there are people to care for. Maybe not in its current iteration, but that’s where adaptation shows up again.

I’m certain there are plenty of other industries that are busier than ever, but the business owners are working double-time to meet the sudden, overwhelming demand and have no time to think about recruitment efforts. My hope is that this article will spark a conversation about identifying those industries that need more team members, so that we can put unemployed people who want to work, back to work right away.

Shifts in consumer demands and fluctuations in the economy are going to continue to happen throughout one’s lifetime. Diversification of skills and adaptivity is going to be critical to us all, at some point. For many of us, that time is now.

Please join in the conversation and share where you notice current employment needs that can be filled; and filled relatively quickly through technical or on-the-job-training. Let’s be part of the solution in our community.