According to a survey, the pandemic has accelerated the rate at which some work skills have become obsolete by 70%.


According to a survey, the pandemic has accelerated the rate at which some work skills have become obsolete by 70%.


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We all face the problem of skill obsolescence. How long has it been since you had to read a paper map? Or how about balancing a checkbook? Or do you want to use a rotary phone? But, just as the epidemic has prompted significant changes in other aspects of our life, it has had an impact on this as well, hastening the rate at which some professional abilities become obsolete by more than 70%.

This is one of the key findings of a recent survey of over 3,000 CEOs performed in collaboration with The Official Board, a global directory of medium and large businesses. While the majority of the respondents were from the C-suite, the observations and takeaways are relevant to any person attempting to stay relevant at work during these hard times.

The purpose of this global study was to see how the COVID-19 epidemic influenced the rate at which executives’ skills became obsolete. Thirty percent of the 3,026 responses were from the United States, with the rest hailing from 120 nations across the globe, excluding Antarctica. Respondents represented 53 different job titles, such as CEO, CFO, and CIO, as well as 86 different sectors (primarily banking, insurance, financial services, consulting and telecommunications).

We limited the number of quantitative questions in the survey so that CEOs could focus on providing qualitative responses, guidance, and insights. The vast majority of individuals polled—84 percent—provided text responses that expanded on their quantitative estimates. These responses revealed a more nuanced and comprehensive picture of skill obsolescence and acquisition, notably in the area of communication. Executives also discussed ways for keeping their abilities current that they found useful.

Two easy questions were asked in the survey:

During the epidemic, what percentage of your skills become obsolete or outdated? Before the epidemic, what percentage of your abilities become obsolete or outdated on an annual basis?

We analyzed the mean replies for each question and discovered that during the COVID-19 epidemic, the perceived rate of skill obsolescence increased by 71.7 percent.

Some executives stressed the learning of new abilities over the obsolescence of others in their comments. Others disputed the concept of skill obsolescence, claiming that their “outmoded” skills were not actually obsolete. This is a condensed version of the information.


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