Author: Annas Abedin, Makeen Advisors
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has had unprecedented health and economic impacts on people and countries across the world. While health professionals are working tirelessly to keep us safe and treat those of us who get infected, government and business leaders are also working tirelessly to mitigate the economic fall-out.
Never-before seen stimulus packages to protect and support large enterprises, SMEs, as well as ordinary citizens, are either in the works or have already been implemented in various countries, which is providing important relief.
Unfortunately however, no matter how sizeable or generous any government or private sector relief initiatives are, supply and demand in many industries will shift (some temporarily while the economy recovers, some permanently), and as consequence there will be many millions of jobs that will significantly change or be lost for good on a global scale. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the lockdown measures to date (full or partial) “are now affecting almost 2.7bn workers, representing 81 per cent of the world’s workforce.” The ILO “estimates that 1.25 billion workers, representing almost 38 per cent of the global workforce, are employed in sectors that are now facing a severe decline in output a high risk of workforce displacement.”
An important component of efforts to tackle the long-term impact of this crisis therefore needs to be a structured approach to help everyone in the workforce navigate these new realities of the labor market. Given the magnitude of COVID- 19, all members of the workforce need market intelligence on how their industries and consequently jobs will be impacted, as well as guidance and coaching on actions they need to take to ensure a promising and successful professional future in a post COVID-19 world.
We believe there are four categories of questions that everyone in the workforce needs to address for themselves in order to be able to chart a clear path forward and be ready for the new realities created by the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. How is my industry and my job affected by COVID-19?
What are the short-term and long-term implications of the virus for my industry, both locally and internationally? How soon are jobs in my space going to come back? Will my industry grow or shrink? What jobs in my industry will be higher in demand vs. lower in demand? What skills are important to have and develop to succeed in the expected new state of my industry? Will there be a shift in how work will be done going forward (e.g., will there be an increase in flexible and project-based work compared to full-time employment), and am I prepared to succeed in such a changed environment?
2. How can I address skill gaps I have to meet the realities and requirements of a post COVID-19 job market?
While learning a new skills is always important and helpful, it is beneficial to be aware of and prioritize the skills and tools that will be in demand the most both during and after the pandemic. Do I know what those skills are or how to figure that out? What is the best way to build those skills and what are the best resources to use? Since there is a plethora of training providers and courses, how do I evaluate which learning options are the most relevant and conducive to help me advance (e.g., which ones are recognized in the industry, have clearly defined and relevant learning objectives, etc.)?
3. How do I find and successfully acquire emerging job opportunities?
How are jobs in my current (or target) industry filled? Are there specific job platforms or recruiting firms I need to register with? What do I need to do in terms of preparing my profile or in terms of outreach in order to increase the probability of success? Do I have the right profile for the opportunities I am going after? Are there other industries or functions in which my skills can be relevant, and how can I figure out whether that is the case? There are many peculiarities by industry and following a standard approach of creating a CV and sending applications in all likelihood will not be sufficient to stand out.
4. How do I stay focused and energized during this period?
We are going through exceptional times and which are mentally challenging on various fronts, including health, family and other personal relationships, financial challenges, and many others. It is important that we are cognizant of the challenges we are facing and have a plan to deal with them, and not let them linger in the background demotivating us. Important questions include: How do I keep myself physically fit and healthy (e.g., sleeping patterns, nutrition, exercise)? How do I achieve clarity on my financial situation and am I doing all I can to manage my cash effectively? Finding new jobs or switching industries might take a long time – do I have a roadmap for what I need to do, and am I mentally prepared for the failures or challenges I might encounter on the way? Which communities and professional groups can I join to help me during the transition?
It is evident that we are going through a period of profound change and significant challenges, and no one has all the answers on the above questions and what the future will bring. But to limit the damage and enhance our preparedness, it is critical that we know what the key questions are, and to make it a priority to formulate a view and to continuously refine it based on new information and evidence. Fortunately to facilitate this process, new analyses are becoming available by the day and thought-leaders across the spectrum of industries are in many cases making their insights available for free – be it on news channels, social media, or their own corporate websites.