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  • Clayton Lawrence

Shifting the Landscape of Employment

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

"...in the next five years, 800 million people will need to develop new skills and 149 million new tech jobs will emerge."



COVID-19 has devastated economies across the globe. In the U.S., we have seen record unemployment and job loss. As a software engineer, I have been fortunate enough to work in a field that can largely be performed remotely. With that being said, I have also witnessed the damaging impact that COVID-19 has had in my own industry. To stay operational, some companies have taken measures that range from laying off employees to rescinding offers for future employees. As I scrolled through my LinkedIn feed, I saw the urgency people had to quickly adjust. I saw an opportunity to use my skills and passion for career development in a time of need. That’s why I recently opened my calendar to offer online career services to help aspiring software engineers affected by COVID-19. Since then, I virtually met with upwards of 20 people in the last four weeks and to my surprise, about half of them did not have a degree in computing or engineering. Despite having a solid resume with demonstrated skills, those individuals expressed concerns about their opportunities due to the lack of a certain degree. The tech industry has already started to relax college degree requirements; however, our global pandemic may accelerate that change for the tech industry and beyond. Let’s take a look at some recent events that aim to get people jobs without focusing on degrees.


In late June, President Trump signed an executive order that mandates jobs for federal agencies be filled based on candidate skill rather than a minimum education requirement. Because the federal government is the nation’s largest employer, this action that could open numerous doors for job seekers similar to my clients that have shown strong coding skills, but lack a four-year computing or engineering degree. Garnering national attention, this executive order has the potential to establish a precedent for future hiring patterns across industries.


Shortly after the U.S. government made a move, we saw a splash from the private sector. Microsoft recently announced a global initiative that will seek to help individuals develop skills in the new COVID-19 economy. As work becomes increasingly digital, they expect that in the next five years, 800 million people will need to develop new skills and 149 million new tech jobs will emerge. In our fast-evolving job market, there is not enough time to attend a four-year program if pivoting is the goal. If you or your current job require a pivot, check out these resources that Microsoft highlighted in their webcast:

Even if degree requirements linger across industries, we can still conclude that COVID-19 has shifted the landscape of employment. The degree and longevity of this shift is still to be determined; but while the world is transitioning, it may be the perfect time to gain some new skills of your own and shift into the dream job you’ve always wanted.

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