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06.04.2021

Aleksandar Hangimana, Managing Shareholder SEE, ManpowerGroup

Innovation in the service of human resources

The speed of digitization is enormous, and no formal education system in the world can adapt to that

“The crisis caused by the global pandemic is unusual in that, unlike the previous crisis, which was a financial one, it has exposed the relationship between the employee and the employer much more, in several different aspects – from how employers or managers treat the company and the employees in terms of employee health to the health of the company and the business”

One of the key issues related to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is preventing layoffs. How did companies react in terms of human resources, and do you have predictions of what will happen by the year-end?

I am encouraged by the latest trend of economic growth similar to that before March this year. Certainly, the last quarter will be an indicator of the impact that the crisis has had on the labour market. The moratorium will be abolished, as will the obligation to not lay off workers in companies that have taken state aid. The last quarter of this year will show whether we can quickly return to the pre-COVID-19 growth phase next year. Certainly, the growth of the German economy should not be forgotten, because the demand and supply in our region indirectly and mostly depend on Germany.

Negative forecasts regarding the fall of GDP and the economy always go hand-in-hand with massive layoffs. Will the labour market and job supply change, and can we expect a bigger offer of part-time jobs in Serbia, as in Germany, for example, with people working between 25 or 30 hours a week?

The state of the pandemic has certainly brought new insights into how work is organized in companies, first of all from the expected growing trend of switching to more flexible work models and out-of-office work to the fact that work can be segmented into reduced working hours, shift or part-time work – depending on industry and type of work.

The introduction of more flexible forms of work organization such as part-time would certainly bring an improvement in terms of better employment. As an example, I would like to mention the Netherlands, which, a few years ago, formalized flexible forms of part-time employment, which led to a better balance in the labour market, hiring hard-to-employ groups of people and achieving a good work-life balance, especially for single parents and other population segments who are working part-time due to personal obligations.

New occupations are emerging as a result of the development of new technologies and the growth of trade, especially this year. Are education and retraining of the workforce keeping up with the pace of innovation?

We are talking about two parallel processes here – on the one hand, the rise of new technologies, such as e-commerce, reduces the need for classic sales channels and physical points of retail, and thus the number of employees. On the other hand, technology is further digitized in combination with robotics, big data analytics and AI, which reduces the need for the human factor in traditional occupations. This creates the need for new specialized and profiled occupations and functions that can be complementary to the processes of automation, AI, big data, but also for certain types of craft workers who are becoming increasingly in demand. We should not forget that the demand for jobs such as artisan, service, technical maintenance, and installation staff, etc., is increasing globally. People must make good and smart career and professional changes. Of course, this requires an adequate social framework for such transitional changes.

What do you think about the impact of changes on the way education works and is it possible for the current education system to be sustainable?

The speed of digitization is enormous, and no formal education system in the world can adapt to that. Although there is still room for non-formal education, there has to be a more practical, easier and faster way to adapt to global change. A person can work on their core skills and know-how through various forms of education, as well as on their soft skills with the help of non-formal education. EduTech is predicted to be one of the most important industries in the very near future.