Upskilling will be more important than ever after COVID-19 pandemic

A conversation with Jake Schwartz, co-founder & CEO, General Assembly

It’s too early to say what the economic recovery is going to look like on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. A few weeks ago, economists were predicting a quick V-shaped recovery, a bad Q2, but a return to economic activity in Q3. Now, CEOs and CFOs are talking about it differently as they watch what is happening in China and other overseas countries.

“We don’t know how deep this is going to cut. We need to do everything we can to keep this pandemic as short as possible,” says Jake Schwartz, Co-Founder & CEO of General Assembly in this episode of Work in Progress.

“Rushing back to work certainly will not make anything better. Doing everything we can to control (the pandemic), getting testing, getting treatments and vaccines up and running, making sure we have the infrastructure to make and build these things–that is what is going to, in the long run, help this economy recover. In the short-run, we are all going to have to have a lot of empathy for not just people losing their jobs, but people losing their businesses.”

Jake Schwartz, Co-Founder & CEO, General Assembly (Photo: General Assembly)

General Assembly was started in 2010, just after the Great Recession ended. Through a combination of online and in-person training, the company addressed the needs of a recovering economy. “G.A. was really set up to help people access the opportunities in parts of the economy that needed the help and where (employers were) constantly complaining that they couldn’t get enough skilled people. That’s our spot in this system, to help accelerate and help reduce the friction of people reskilling and upskilling in higher-growth careers.”

Schwartz says he is not seeing 100 percent of companies stopping their upskilling efforts, but he is seeing companies that were thinking about it putting those thoughts on pause. “I don’t blame them. They are trying to figure out how to save their companies and how to humanely treat hundreds of thousands of workers that are probably going to file for unemployment soon.”

Still, he believes that when we come out of this slowdown, you will start seeing employers “dip their toe back in the water” and upskilling is going to be even more important. “We are still in this massive secular expansion of technology, and the leveraging of technology and data for all sorts of purposes.”

Schwartz had much more to say about where he sees the workforce in the coming months. You can listen to the entire Work in Progress podcast here, or download it and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 126: Jake Schwartz, Co-Founder & CEO, General Assembly
Host: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch, Melissa Panzer, and Ramona Schindelheim
Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4.0.

You can check out all the other podcasts at this link: Work in Progress podcasts