What Professional Services Jobs Will Look Like in a Post-Pandemic World
Next to the U.S. government, the professional services industry is the largest employer in Washington, D.C. According to the D.C. Policy Center, 33.1 percent of the workforce are employed in this industry. While this industry has numerous subsectors, accounting, consulting, and research are a few of the largest.
Like most everywhere else, professional service firms were deeply affected by COVID-19. While an immediate disruption sent workers home, the good news was accounting, consulting, and research employees were mostly able to transition to remote work situations. Let's take a closer look at these three job subsectors.
Accounting is an important subsector in the D.C. region. McKinley Advisors, a D.C.-based consulting firm, conducted a survey of accountants between May and July 2020 that was published in February 2021. Their findings showed 80 percent of respondents experienced no change to their employment status. Although, many indicated experiencing difficulties with changes made to existing business practices. The survey also highlighted many accounting firms sold physical space or ended leases, signaling WFM is here to stay in this industry. Findings showed 50 percent expect to continue remote work strategies permanently. Accounting jobs will always be in demand, however, how this subsector operates, and the skills workers need are undoubtedly going to evolve.
Consulting firms are a major part of D.C.'s employment foundation, and many major players in this subsector call Washington home. This includes McKinsey, BCG, Booz Allen Hamilton, Accenture, Deloitte, Bain & Company, ICF International, and ANALYTICA, to name just a handful. Consulting is often linked to politics—and yes, this is a key niche—but there are numerous other types of consulting opportunities to be found. These include, but are not limited to:
- Information technology
- Risk and compliance
- Human resources
- Crisis management
- Financial advisory
- Business strategy/operations
The pandemic increased a need for these and other specialized areas of expertise. For instance, technology is clearly going to play a huge role in just about every industry. This means employers will seek help adapting to changing times, including new remote work approaches, cybersecurity policies and practices, risk analysis and management strategies, and maintaining compliance as security and privacy laws expand. Anyone who possesses the expertise to apply to in-demand areas can find work through self-employment or employment with a consulting firm.
In the healthcare and sciences sector, it's clear research jobs were critical and in-demand through the pandemic, and this will continue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in various industries, anticipation for research jobs shows incredible growth. If you look at BLS's forecasts for research jobs in business, computer science, operations research, medical science, to name just a few industries, growth projections range from 17 percent to 25 percent through 2030.
In a world where innovation takes center stage, in all walks of life, research will be required to help society find solutions and adjust to changes. So, those building the next great productivity app or trying to understand COVID-19 variants, and everything in between will find their skills in demand. Many positions will involve WFH components, which come with significant advantages and challenges for researchers to consider.
Skills for tomorrow's professional services providers
Professional services jobs aren't going extinct, but skills, requirements, and job descriptions will probably evolve. According to data provided by Gartner, the number of required skills workers need increases by 10 percent per year and would drastically change by 2021 and beyond. To succeed, workers must adapt to a rapidly changing world. This was set in motion before COVID-19 but has accelerated. Skills professional service providers will need:
- Digital capabilities to manage new ways jobs are designed.
- Communications management to accommodate videoconferencing and collaboration applications.
- Adaptability to adjust to evolving business models, operational changes, or new job responsibilities.
- Self-direction to adjust to remote work situations where employees will essentially be operating independently.
People who possess these skills and more will find it easier to land positions and succeed in their jobs.
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