The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in so many changes that impact several fields, from societal life to workplace dynamics, in Turkey.
It seems that even if the pandemic is brought completely under control, we will have to sustain some of the habits we have acquired during the epidemic.
One of the areas that is hardest hit by these transformations is work life.
In many workplaces, employees have easily adapted to working from home by switching to digital environments and video conference calls.
This situation, which has been gradually emerging in workplaces, was discussed extensively before the Covid-19 pandemic and begets the question of "how will the future of the workplace change with digital transformation?" Perhaps the pandemic will be the turning point for digitization in the workplace.
Undoubtedly, the industry that was most ipacted under the current situation was the industry sector. Manufacturing slowed, and many employees faced the risk of losing their jobs.
For this reason, the industry sector will unveil new working modes by leaning more on technology in order to shield itself from high risk situations such as pandemics.
Well, is Turkey’s industrial sector ready for digital transformation?
In fact, digital transformation in manufacturing has been a hot-button issue since 2011. Each country's digital transformation is based on their own internal dynamics. In Turkey, the term "National Technology Campaign" is used.
Turkey’s National Technology Campaign aims to achieve breakthrough goals that would improve social welfare, sustainable economic development, global competitiveness, economic and technological independence, value-added products as well as critical technologies.
The only way to bring about these national developments and achieve these goals is based on the training of highly qualified human resources. Because the skills that the industrial sector and particularly large-scale enterprises require from their employees are constantly changing.
This change will affect not only the white-collar workforce, but also the one that we call blue-collar, which relies more on physical labor.
Digital transformation brings with it changes to the routine and manual work of the blue-collar workforce as many tasks get assigned to machines, and this should result in the employment of the blue-collar workforce in other areas of the manufacturing process.
However, the actualization of such a reality makes it necessary for the blue collar workforce to acquire new skills.
The blue-collar workforce, which was previously hired on the basis of technical skills only, is now expected to have the social, emotional, cognitive and multitasking skills needed for the white-collar workforce. In addition, both the blue and white collar workforce are now expected to have digital skills.
Digital transformation, Pandemics and Vocational Schools
The blue-collar workforce in particular directly affects the digital transformation process, which underlines the importance of vocational and technical education in Turkey.
At this point, it is necessary to increase the attractiveness of vocational and technical education, to prevent out-of-field employment of graduate students and to launch vocational and technical education schools in accordance with regional needs.
Moreover, vocational and technical education schools, which are the backbone of the industry sector, should be made more appealing for vocational high school students who do not prefer to work in the industry sector for reasons such as low wages, poor working conditions, career and development.
After all, vocational high schools made crucial contributions to the production of masks, mask machines, ventilators and several other products needed in the healthcare field during the pandemic.