The novel coronavirus continues to leave its mark on economies worldwide. Unemployment is at an all-time high. According to experts, nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be forced to close permanently over the next several months. But many believe that ‘black swan events’ such as pandemics and recessions fuel the next wave of innovation.
In particular, the tech sector has risen to face these challenges with fresh innovation. Apple and Google are working on software updates for iOS and Android that will trace the mobile phones that come into close contact with COVID-19 patients. Microsoft is leveraging its global supply chain to get personal protective gear to frontline healthcare workers.
People in tech are excited about expanded opportunities and the ability to solve the challenges facing all of humanity. While they seem endless – here are the top three tech opportunities that COVID-19 has created:
Rise in Adoption of E-learning and a Focus on Up-leveling Skills
The COVID-19 has resulted in schools shut all across the world. Globally, over 1.2 billion students are out of the classroom. As a result, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, and take less time, meaning the changes coronavirus have caused might be here to stay.
With the rise of unemployment, workers now have the opportunity to use that time to upskill or learn new skills that will help pivot their career into the tech industry. As a response, programs like Google’s Grow with Google, Fortinet’s free cybersecurity skills training, and PepUp Tech’s accelerated Salesforce Academy training programs.
Closing the Tech Talent Gap
The tech talent gap has long been a challenge for top companies to overcome. The desired skills required across industries change so rapidly that there simply aren’t enough traditionally skilled applicants to fill these roles because technology is evolving faster than the traditional workforce.
According to Pew Research Center, employment in STEM occupations has grown 79% since 1990 — increasing from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth. Within the broader tech umbrella, specific segments are experiencing exponential growth — for example, the Salesforce industry. Research suggests that Salesforce and its ecosystem of partners will create more than 1 trillion dollars in new business revenues and 4.2 million jobs by 2024.
But diversity and inclusion are two areas that continue to challenge the tech industry. According to 10K Advisor’s Talent Ecosystem Report, there is growing parity of male and female in entry-level Salesforce admin jobs, but disparity in gender ratios for the more technical roles. Perhaps with the available skills training available in a post-COVID-19 world, the larger talent pool will help level the playing field, create more opportunity to learn tech skills, and create a more inclusive environment for those who are low-income and have never worked professionally. This will help close the “tech skills gap.”
Technologists are Flexing their Innovation
Now, more than ever before, technologists and developers are being asked to think critically, and creatively solve the world’s problems. There is an expectation to stretch beyond their usual role. There is a reliance on technology for survival, education, and community. This challenge is being met with innovation beyond belief.
Consider that lower education (grades K-12), historically an industry that is hesitant to adopt new, cutting-edge technology, is expanding its comfort level and has successfully adopted-learning. Zoom, a company that is now known by business individuals and grandparents alike, rapidly evolved its product with advanced security and encryption. Every member of the tech community is being asked to expand their skill set.
I, for one, am excited about the opportunities within our industry. Our economy will recover, and I am confident that the tech industry is working in overdrive to get us there as quickly as possible.