Re-skilling workers will reduce COVID-19 unemployment risks

As consumer demands on businesses change, so will labour market demands for skilled workers

Re-skilling workers will reduce COVID-19 unemployment risks

In the midst of unprecedented change, the majority of workers worldwide believe they are well cared for by their employers – but there are other areas where organizations will need to step up their game, a new study suggests.

A global survey by HR consulting firm Randstad showed 75% of professionals globally feel supported by their organization, while 76% report their companies have helped them balance their professional and personal obligations throughout the lockdown period.

Read more: Leadership, pandemics and the future of working

Managers have made employee welfare their top priority amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In Canada, for example, 90% of those polled by Randstad say they’ve been able to embrace change with help from their managers.

And while the pandemic threatens job security for 64% of professionals globally, only a little more than half of Canadians (55%) share the same anxiety.

Are Canadian workers too optimistic?
In the event of a layoff, 86% of surveyed workers in Canada are confident that the government would help them get back on track and find new employment opportunities amid the crisis.

But the Canadian government’s emergency response benefit and wage subsidy programs only serve as a stop-gap solution to ease the pressure on businesses that aim to gradually reopen their doors and rehire workers post-pandemic.

“Government schemes in many countries, including Canada, have temporarily protected a large number of jobs,” said Carolyn Levy, president of Randstad Technologies. “[This] may account for Canadian workers feeling slightly more positive than their global counterparts.”

Read more: Digital upskilling: Modern workers are hungry for learning

These temporary measures, however, might not prove sustainable. “We know it may take years to see employment return to pre-pandemic levels in Canada,” Levy said.

With consumer demands changing in the new normal, so will labour market demands for skilled workers who can cater to these demands in a digitalised landscape. Hence, re-skilling and upskilling in this tech-driven economy will work to minimise one’s risk of remaining unemployed for long.

“In Canada, and around the world, to reduce mass global unemployment, private and public sectors will need to work together,” Levy said. “For Canadian workers, re-skilling is no longer a tool for career advancement but a tool for career survival.”

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