The Emergence of New Age Jobs in Asia During Pandemic-Accelerated Digitalisation
Meme-in-Chief. This sounds like a fictitious title, but this was an actual position offered by MediaCorp, a Singaporean media network, last year. This job posting created quite the buzz, as many were curious about the position and the job title itself. The job description was particularly interesting, as the employee’s sole objective is to create interesting memes and actively interact with the organisation’s audience via social media platforms.
Ten years ago, the types of jobs in demand in Asia were spread across a balance of industries, including finance, human resources, technology, and more. Fast forward ten years and countries like Singapore are reporting that the jobs that are in highest demand revolve heavily around the technology sector, with companies seeking to hire developers, cybersecurity specialists, e-commerce specialists, and more. The shift in job direction can be attributed to the global digitalisation that is going on and has certainly been sped up by the pandemic, thus creating new age jobs in Asia.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report in 2018, which was prepared before the pandemic struck, it was expected that by 2022, on a global level, “133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms”. In 2020, during the pandemic, the Future of Jobs Report estimated the emergence of 97 million new roles by 2025, due to the disruptions that the pandemic has caused businesses.
Of these, a significant majority will be roles that are “based on and enhanced by the use of technology”. The example of MediaCorp’s Meme-in-Chief position is a clear indicator that companies – especially in Asia, where jobs are considered more conservative in comparison to the West – will need to embrace new age jobs in order to keep up with the accelerated change that is occurring, or they will be left behind.
The pandemic has certainly caused a significant number of job losses globally, with over 81 million jobs lost in Asia, but it has also been the catalyst for the growth spurt in new age jobs. According to Microsoft, the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the world’s digitalisation process and will create 149 million new technology-related jobs by 2025.
While many non-technology-related companies are being cautious with their hiring drives and trying to downsize, technology-based companies in Asia, such as Shopee and Amazon, are being brazen in their approach. During the height of the pandemic, the two companies hired almost 500 staff collectively. Understanding the shift in global digitalisation, these tech companies are positioning themselves to be at the forefront during the pandemic and afterwards. LinkedIn has also reported that there were approximately 2,800 technology-related jobs listed on its site during the pandemic, especially in the e-commerce, online education and food delivery industries. Job searches for companies in these industries indicate a heavy focus on technology-related skills, signifying the quickly increasing demands for new age jobs in the age of pandemic-accelerated digitalisation.
COVID-19 has not only seen the creation of new age jobs within the technological field. Interestingly enough, the pandemic has created other new roles and positions, such as contact tracers, social distancing ambassadors, COVID-19 swabbers and swab assistants, temperature takers and even customised mask makers. Countries like Singapore, Korea, Japan, and Malaysia created many of these positions and hired locals to fill them. Many who lost their jobs realigned themselves to take on these new roles created by the pandemic. While it is unclear if these new jobs will continue as the world attempts to recover from the pandemic, it is clear that they are here to stay for a while longer.
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