The Skill Economy: How Ready Are You?
By Ezinwanne Onwuka
Have you noticed that traditional jobs are disappearing faster and faster? Have you seen the news about technology and robots replacing more and more workers? Did you know that fewer and fewer workers won’t be able to secure full-time jobs in the near future? If you pay close attention to the trends, you will see the writing on the wall – the old way of working is disappearing.
The days when you could graduate from the tertiary institution, land a secure job, work with the same company at the same job for forty years, and then retire at sixty-five is fast fading. You might already know that and you might not: something in the economy is changing. The old “job economy” is steadily disappearing, and a new economy is emerging; it is what I call the ‘Skill Economy.’
A good definition of the Skill Economy is an economy where people are being paid more and more based on their skills, not their credentials, experience, or job position.
However, not all skills are created equal – some reward you better than others. In the skill economy, your income will be determined by three factors: first, what you do; second, how well you do it; and third, the difficulty of replacing you.
You are probably familiar with the concept of “supply and demand”—when there is high demand and low supply for something, it is more valuable; when there is low demand and high supply for something, it is less valuable. It works the same way with skills.
The principle of supply and demand divides skills into two categories: Low-Income Skills and High-Income Skills.
Low-Income Skills are high in supply and low in demand – that is why they will give you low pay. They are a commodity, and there are many more people out there who have these skills than there is a demand for them. As an example, imagine you are working as a cashier. There is nothing wrong with working as a cashier, by the way. Your salary is what can be called a minimum wage, and you are required to work long, tough hours. You work very, very hard, but your salary does not reflect your efforts. Why is that? It is because working as a cashier is a Low-Income Skill. No matter how good or fast you are at ringing up the cash register, you could always be replaced by anyone on the street.
In contrast to Low-Income Skills, High-Income Skills are low in supply and high in demand – that is why they will give you higher pay. If you have a High- Income Skill, people will fight to hire you, because you can deliver high value. Additionally, if you have a High-Income Skill, the work you get will offer you much more compensation, flexibility, and happiness. In addition, you will get the ability to control your finances, the time you work, and the location of your work. These are all crucial factors in deciding your happiness at work.
However, you might be wondering, “this all sounds good, but what exactly is a High-Income Skill?” I am glad you asked. A High-Income Skill is a skill that allows you to earn about five hundred thousand (500,000) per month or more, providing a service other people know they need, but do not know how to do themselves. It is a skill no one can take from you and is transferable across industries.
Remember that we said High-Income Skills are low in supply and high in demand; this means low-level skills like cleaning, driving etc. are not High-Income Skills. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being a driver. I think it is great for many people. It gives you flexibility and lets you earn outside of regular work hours. However, drivers likely won’t make a high income because they are replaceable. If one driver is not available, there are dozens of drivers waiting around the corner.
High-Income Skills are limitless. A High-Income Skill gives you the most freedom because what you are worth is only capped by how much value you can bring to the marketplace. It is not company dependent because you can go to another client who will want your service. It is not industry dependent because a High-Income Skill works across all industries. It is not location dependent because a High-
Income Skill does not require your physical presence as long as you can deliver value to your customers. With the advancements in technology, it is easier than ever to work from the comfort of your home.
Once you acquire your High-Income Skill, you will be able to start living your life with real financial confidence. Your next question might be, “Okay, I get it. High Income-Skills are the way to go. But which skills are considered High-Income skills and which should I choose?” The right High-Income Skill for you will be different depending on what you like and do not like, but to give you some ideas, here are a few High-Income Skills.
COPYWRITING: It is salesmanship in print: crafting ads, sales letters, and sales pages in the most compelling way possible. Copywriting is arranging words to make a product sell better. If you have seen a billboard, a newspaper ad, a Facebook ad, or any mind-blowing commercial – that is copywriting. To narrow it down, if you have written a text to get someone on a date, that is copywriting! It is one of the best High-Income Skills to develop.
CREATIVE WRITING: Creative writing encompasses everything from novel writing, freelance writing, blogging, and much more. It is incredibly lucrative for creative minds and free thinkers. If you love writing, you could earn money from it. Write and publish books, start a blog, offer to write for a website or blog etc.
CONSULTING: A consultant is a creative problem solver who can look at a business from an objective view. They look at a problem and present a solution. In essence, consultants trade their expertise for money. A good consultant provides unbiased advice and expertise. If you have something you are good at doing, something your friends always come to you for help with, or an area in which you know you excel, then you may have a start to a consultancy business.
DIGITAL MARKETING: Digital marketing includes mapping out funnels, managing Facebook pages and ads, growing Instagram accounts, building customer relationships, and more. Digital marketing is a massive opportunity for young and ambitious people who are already familiar with social media. If you love social media, why not choose it as a High-Income Skill? With the boom of social media, companies cannot keep up with the trends. If you can learn this skill and take on four #100,000/month clients, that is your High-Income Skill right there.
BLOGGING/CONTENT CREATION: Blogging is similar to creative writing, but if you have an independent blog, you can learn how to manage online marketing, run ads, drive traffic, and much more. It is an excellent High-Income Skill if you can create valuable content that helps other people. If you can combine excellent writing skills with marketing skills, you could be well on your way to making blogging your next High-Income Skill.
NEGOTIATION: Negotiation skills are essential for just about everything. Though you may not be paid for #500,000 a month for this alone, it amplifies everything else you do. Whether it is negotiating with clients, potential partners, or vendors, the negotiation could make or break the deal; this is one of the most critical High-Income Skills that makes all of your other High-Income Skills more effective.
PUBLIC SPEAKING: More people fear public speaking than death. That means at a funeral, more people would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. That is why a very select few people have truly mastered this one. It is not just being able to speak confidently in front of a crowd – it is about communicating a story and a vision to the audience.
LANGUAGE TRANSLATION: With the rise of globalization, countries from around the world are starting to do business with one another. If you are fluent in multiple languages, then this would be a tremendous High-Income Skill to develop. Learning a language is not something most people can do in a short time. That is why most will pay someone else to do it.
PHOTOGRAPHY: I have a friend who is a high-end photographer who gets paid handsomely for his work. However, he is not just the “photo guy.” He works with his client to make sure he understands their needs and offers suggestions for shots that will capture the experience forever. It is this type of care and empathy that allows him to charge high-end prices.
PROGRAMMING: Technology is becoming more and more pervasive in our world. Soon (and even now), Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a massive part in our society. Programmers are needed in all industries—from marketing to health to finance. If you are extremely analytical and programming suits your goals, go for this as your High-Income Skill.
All of these examples have the potential to become a High-Income Skill, but there are two High-Income Skills that I love: Copywriting, and Digital marketing. They are the ultimate High-Income Skills because they help other businesses generate revenue or acquire new customers.
These High-Income Skills are recession proof, have the highest earning potential, and companies will always need these High-Income Skills regardless of how the economy is doing. When the economy is doing well, companies want more customers. When the economy is doing poorly, companies need more customers. Either way, people with these High-Income Skills are always in demand. Guess what? It will never go out of style. Artificial intelligence and robots won’t ever take it down because some transactions still need a human touch.
You might think, “But, Ezinwanne, I am not a marketer and I know little or nothing about computers. How does this apply to me?” The great thing about this is that it is a learnable skill. It is like riding a bicycle. Do you remember when you first learned to ride a bicycle? It is scary at first, and you fall a few times, but as you get better at balancing on two wheels, it becomes fun. Once you learn it, you keep that skill for life. You never forget how to ride a bicycle. It is the same with these High-Income Skills.
Now that you understand the power of having a High-Income Skill, doesn’t it make sense to develop one yourself?