Personal branding, time management and Excel skills in demand, as COVID-19 drives a shift to remote work

covid-19 unemployment

As COVID-19 has shaken up the Australian workforce, more professionals are upskilling online, with healthy work-from-home habits and personal branding, digital and pitching skills proving to be in high demand.

That’s according to LinkedIn’s Most Popular Courses list, based on the numbers of virtual attendees to the platform’s LinkedIn Learning courses between July 2019 and July 2020.

Many of the courses on the list reflected the new COVID-19 work environment, which has seen thousands of people move into home offices. A course on the foundations of remote work is up there, for example, as is one sharing lessons in time management.

And it’s not surprising people are learning the skills they need to work more effectively from home. The move to remote work may well be something that outlasts the pandemic crisis.

LinkedIn’s data also suggests that, of all APAC countries, Australia has seen the biggest increase in remote working roles becoming available. Between March and May 2020, remote working roles had increased more than threefold.

“Since entering the era of COVID-19, the way we learn, work and do business has transformed,” Jason Laufer, LinkedIn’s senior director for learning solutions in the Asia Pacific region, said in a post.

“This is indicative of what the jobs landscape will look like in future — where remote work is the new normal, the digital space takes precedence, and professionals with diverse skillsets are valued by organisations,” he wrote.

At the same time, however, many seemed to be centred around ‘softer’ skills.

For example, the number one most popular course of the year so far has been in strategic thinking. A course in developing your emotional intelligence also appears in the top 10.

“In fact, the number of people globally using LinkedIn to learn soft skills has doubled in the past year, and is growing at an even faster rate than those learning hard skills,” Laufer said.

“Needless to say, we’re learning how to be more productive remotely, create work-life balance, and communicate with virtual teams.”

There are, however, also courses on the list that suggest people are upskilling, either to become more employable, or to put them in good stead to launch their own business.

While we’re all for personal and professional development, it speaks to the number of people who have found themselves unable to work at this time.

For example, the third- and fourth-most popular courses are both Excel training courses, and a project management foundations course also makes the top 10.

And, LinkedIn has seen a 153% increase in the total hours spent on its online courses, between July 2019 and 2020, compared to the previous year.

In July 2020, LinkedIn members spent more than 113,000 hours learning, compared to 39,000 hours in July 2019.

Finally, courses in personal branding and training in how to pitch yourself perhaps show people are looking to branch out on their own.

“Professionals need to strive for skills diversity,” Laufer said.

“They must pick up the necessary digital and soft skills that will enable them to work, collaborate, and manage teams in a digital space.”

LinkedIn’s 10 Most Popular Courses for 2020

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Learning Python
  • Excel 2016 Essential Training
  • Excel Essential Training (Office 365)
  • Remote Work Foundations
  • Time Management: Working from Home
  • Developing Your Emotional Intelligence
  • Project Management Foundations
  • Learning Personal Branding
  • Jodi Glickman on Pitching Yourself

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