A Changing Landscape: The Importance of Digital in the New World

280
The power of information can help or hamper many people in today's world

The world is fast-changing and, as a result of the pandemic, so is the job market landscape. Although the world had steadily been approaching a much more digitized landscape for a number of years, the pandemic itself has the been the key driving force behind the increasing importance of digital media and related skills over the past year. Whereas other job roles – such as those in brick-and-mortar retail stores, bars, and offices, to name but a few – have struggled with the onslaught of restrictions and lockdowns occurring, with many industries practically folding entirely or being substantially reduced by the virus, the tech sector has expanded beyond all anticipation.

Thousands of retail stores were forced to operate solely in the digital world: comedians, singers, and artists of all types performed via apps such as Zoom, and many office workers were required to work from home via their laptop or tablet device. In other words, the majority of industries worldwide had to hunker down and a large number of businesses have struggled to adapt and survive as a result. Where many jobs have been rendered obsolete by the ongoing restrictions, or businesses have had to remain closed, staff have suddenly found themselves in precarious positions, facing either the loss of their job or a cut in their pay due to restrictions. This has meant that huge proportions of people have had to consider their options and look for more viable work, whether long-term or temporary.

For some, this has meant taking that long-held passion or hobby, and dedicating time and energy to making money from it; for others, it has meant seeking a career path that is more viable in the digital age that’s upon us. However, with only the younger generations – such as Gen Z and Millennials – having grown up immersed in a world dominated by technology, there’s a huge number of older workers who have yet to fully grasp the digital side of things. Now more than ever, it is important to upskill this group of workers, to ensure that they can access the tools necessary to compete and thrive in a much more tech-centric job market.

Elevate Through Education

One excellent way of developing the knowledge required to access the modern job market with confidence is to educate yourself. This can be achieved by online courses, distance-learning degrees, night-classes, or workshops – whichever you choose, the benefits can far outweigh any negatives.

For those who already have an undergraduate degree, a different, more in-depth route could be embarking on a master’s degree, identifying your strengths and deepening your knowledge. Obtaining a masters in digital marketing online, for example, can be an excellent step up into a whole host of different careers, arming you with skills and knowledge that can be applied to variety of different jobs: copywriting, internet marketing, marketing strategy, online advertising, project management, public relations, social media marketing, and web development.

Whichever career path you choose, elevating your digital skills and knowledge via education can help prepare you for a more tech-focused job landscape.

Making the Switch

Many bigger businesses have suffered extensively throughout the pandemic, with vast monopolies in the worlds of media, fashion, and business buckling under the financial strains. Equally, many people have begun to really see the corruption at the heart of many of these conglomerates, with fashion brands refusing to pay workers in countries such as Bangladesh, or paying them less than a living wage, while still giving bonuses to those at the top. In short, they have exposed their greed and profit-driven behavior.

Instead, small businesses and forward-thinking entrepreneurs have adapted, demonstrating the heart of their brand through community-focused work, including the delivery of food parcels to the needy, visiting the elderly to prevent loneliness, utilizing social media to entertain and comfort, and volunteering in industries requiring workers temporarily. Although such businesses have struggled financially during this period, they’ve inspired immense loyalty from their consumers that look to carry them through to the post-pandemic world – in fact, it has never been a better time to start thinking about the possibility of starting your own business or side-hustle, with consumers much more considerate and thoughtful about where they are choosing to spend their money. This has led to a plethora of small, online, independent publishing groups, focusing on lesser-known and underrepresented contributors, as well as social media-based, online ‘zines’, that connect much more effectively with their audience than traditional print.

Whether you are starting again and searching for an entirely new career path, or you’re simply looking to set up an enjoyable side-hustle, there are plenty of options for you to look into and gaps in the market that will help to facilitate this. Consider your skills – what have you gained and demonstrated from your previous position(s)? How can your knowledge and skills be adapted for different careers and circumstances? What are your priorities – more money, fewer hours, less stress, more family time – and what is going to help you to achieve this? What skills and knowledge do you need to obtain, and how can this be approached?

Decision, Decisions

If you know that you are in need of a career change, or are preparing for the possibility of redundancy in the future as a result of the pandemic, now is the time to start researching. As mentioned earlier, certain types of businesses are being rendered obsolete by the shift towards a more digital approach, while others look as though they will thrive post-pandemic. The key here is to look into the type of businesses that are likely to succeed over the next couple of years and decide which closely align with your values, skills, and lifestyle, and then assess whether they are financially viable options for you and your family.

Once you have narrowed down your options to one or two avenues, you can start to consider what skills and knowledge you need to acquire to be successful, the technology you need to set yourself up successfully, and whether this will require any investment from your personal finances.

A Technological Future

Social media became the survival tactic of many during the pandemic. During the darkest of times for lots of people around the world, celebrities, influencers, theaters, comedians, and authors utilized social media to entertain their followers and fans, to instigate social change, and to demonstrate that they, too, were struggling.

Comedy gigs, plays, and concerts were shown via apps such as Zoom; famous rap and hip-hop stars performed ‘Verzuz’ battles with their greatest hits on Instagram live; poets gave readings via Reels and TikTok; personal trainers and fitness experts have delivered at-home workouts suitable for the whole family. As a result of this, many performers have speculated that an element of this new way of connecting with audiences may continue post-pandemic, as it is much more inclusive than prior methods of engagement.

Additionally, many artists and writers have dedicated an increasing amount of time towards utilizing apps and digital techniques to present their work, varying their mediums to attract new audiences and help their work stand out. In contrast to traditional methods of disseminating work, social media helps these artists and writers to connect with wider audience and helps to expose them worldwide.

The popularity of streaming has also skyrocketed during this time, with more people than ever joining Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, and Prime Video, as well as other streaming services – so much so, that traditional television channels have found themselves struggling to attract large audiences, losing out to the continually fresh content made for and promoted by streaming services. The question is, however, how long will this remain the case? Well, with it looking less and less likely that cinemas will be open to the public in the same way as prior to the pandemic, it is possible that streaming is here to stay.

Another consideration to bear in mind is the decision of many larger companies to allow staff to have more flexible working conditions in future: Microsoft, Spotify, and Hawke Media are just three examples of companies moving their staff towards home-based working in future, while tutoring and skills workshops are also beginning to be conducted online more frequently. This demonstrates a wider understanding of the benefits that working remotely can offer, meaning that many workers will be required to gain a firm understanding of various technological devices and apps, if they want to compete in the future job market.

Despite the progress of vaccines to combat Covid-19 around the world, mutations and variations of the virus are rife – in addition to record numbers of daily infections occurring in countries such as India and Brazil – and look set to continue impacting the world for at least the next couple of years. This means that there may very well be a need for ongoing restrictions and flexibility in society, with work, travel, and entertainment dependent on the development of the virus over time, making it vital that the world’s population becomes secure with different facets of technology and the digital world – particularly if they want to remain relevant in future.