The Myth of Post-Covid Skills, Reconsidered

 

A few comments on this post...

Having taken a look, I don't think a search of the top ten Google results for 'post-COVID skills' was the best place to look for lessons learned. The Google search gives us results from siets like McKinsey, Forbes, and topuniversities.com. It would have been better to consult the many reports from government and international bodies, education experts, and colleges and universities - none of which had thr SEO to make it into the Google top ten.

Additionally, I don't think the list of the usual suspects trotted out by the Google top ten sources (and numerous others) - you know, critical thinking, teamwork and collaboration, creativity, emotional intelligence, etc. - that have been touted as 21st century skills, digital literacy skills, etc., etc., for the last 20 years or more. There's nothing about the pandemic that made these any more or less important.

But most importantly, it wasn't students who needed to learn post-Covid skills. They've been growing up digital and working from home and collaborating, etc., etc. all along. No, my observation has been that the real need for skills development was found in the existing workforce, including *especially* the academic workforce. A generation of academics that did little to prepare for the digital age found themselves thrust unprepared into it, and were forced to learn a lot about *learning* in the 21st century.

Finally, there *is* a list of post-Covid - not skills, really, but lessons - that were important for both students and the academic workforce, but it's a much more nuanced list than Forbes or McKinsey provided. It's well work reading Tony Bates on the subject https://www.tonybates.ca/2020/11/05/10-lessons-for-a-post-pandemic-world-from-covid-19-for-canadian-universities-and-colleges/ and I have added my own thoughts as well https://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2020/12/lessons-from-pandemic.html and there's more in this detailed set of resources https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ux3lTnUTpzZRuvxE3rAsSQ4Ihub96S8_OYECNh8wv-A/edit#

I mention these not to get you to follow my links, but to draw attention to the real lessons being learned at all levels: how hard it is to change at first (but it gets easier), the need for open media, the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (seriously, after the last 18 months we've had, how do Forbes and McKinsey miss this?), the need for flexible working conditions and to support diverse needs (and maybe even fair wages for all), the recognition that *society* (and not just 'students') benefit from education.

And when we look back on skills and development some five years or so after the pandemic (which might still be a decade from now; we're not out of it yet) we might be asking some much more basic questions, such as 'how to resist wage exploitation (even if you're a teaching assistant)" or "what do we even mean by a career?" and "how personal professional development matters much more than the 'skills' employers 'require'." Or "how to live a meaningful life in a post-growth economy".

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