The pandemic has indeed altered the course of our lives but an unexpected change was seen in workforces across countries. During the months of April -June almost 20 million jobs were lost in the US and 21 million in India. These shocking numbers are a harsh reality check on the ripple effect brought upon by this virus. While everyone was concerned about Covid-19 cases increasing, unemployment rates across countries found themselves soaring.
As India slowly started to re-open with new unlock guidelines, employment started to pick up pace. Unemployment rate fell from a high of 23.5% to 16% and while this fall was as dramatic as its rise, many experts predict that the job market will not return back to a pre covid era. This essentially means that while people may start finding themselves employed , many job sectors will not flourish and do well in this changed era.
Most of the job losses we have seen so far have been in industries that have been impacted by social distancing and fear of a high rate of transmission such as restaurants, cinema halls, salons etc. These sectors are likely to flourish once again when the ‘fear’ of the pandemic subsides and we have seen this happen with people rushing to restaurants, as soon as they were allowed to reopen. However trends of remote working, online learning and the increasing popularity of e-commerce websites have raised doubts in many peoples mind- which are the jobs that will not survive the shift in a post covid era?
Lockdown caused a lot of malls and departmental stores to shut and this resulted in employment in retail sales plummeting by 7.5%. Retailers around the world began shutting shop and even big names such as Zara, IKEA Hyderabad and Microsoft decided to shut down a majority of their outlets. These imminent shut downs are proof that layoffs in this sector are far from over. This ‘retail apocalypse’ could also be because of the increasing popularity of e-commerce websites which have gained a lot of popularity since lockdown has begun.
Everyone loves a guided tour in a new, exotic city but with all our travel plans being put on hold this year, tourism has been one of the worst affected sectors with a reported 121 million people loosing their job in this industry worldwide. While tourism is slowing gaining traction with countries allowing international travel, it is unlikely that a pre covid situation would present itself. In fact, hotel and tourism sales have gone down by almost 61%. “These are jobs that will be hard to see demand picking up with all the restrictions we have,” Economist Nick Bunker tells Marketplace.
Since people are unlikely to visit any new destinations this year, air travel has been seriously affected. In fact air traffic was so severely hit that it saw a whopping downfall of almost 94.1% in April, which lead to a plethora of people loosing their jobs. While personal travel was a significant contributor, business travelling made a significant portion of the airline industries revenue. However with WFH, these business trips have been ditched for conference meetings over Zoom. While inter-state travel has picked up, experts are not sure it will resume back to what it was.
Online learning has become the new norm for schools and colleges with he onset of this pandemic. While the 2019-2020 academic year was completed remotely, it is also estimated that the next academic year would follow in the same footsteps. This rise in online learning has led to a significant decrease in teaching staff and is a trend that is likely to remain even after the pandemic is over. Local and State Governments have also reduced their financial support with a reduction in further which would further encourage higher education institutions to cut costs by a significant reduction in teachers. This was in the form of a 12% reduction in higher education employment since the month of May.
Non Residential Construction
The pandemic resulting shift to almost everything online - work, shopping, schooling etc. has lead to a significant decrease in demand for non residential spaces like retail or office spaces. This change is likely to be sudden, drastic and even having an impact on non residential employment.
This could be a time where you re-invent yourself (and your skills)
Indeed, this world is recalibrating itself in these new and changing times and while some jobs may find its significance diminished, new jobs are also likely to find themselves into the market. Sectors just as AI, Programming, Digital Marketing and Data Science are one of the fastest growing and popular fields right now.
All hope is not lost. Manish Kumar, CEO of National Skill Development Corporation, tells Financial Express how this loss of jobs is natural and will eventually give way to a new era of jobs. “Going forward, the key is constant reskilling and upskilling”, he says. This essentially means revamping your skill set. Your degree in hospitality or aviation is not gone to waste, you need to utilise it in a different way. Face-to-face models of interaction will see a decline and hence focus should be on trying to find a remote and online aspect to the field of your choice.
While this lockdown has given plenty of time to people to reinvent themselves, it could also be a time of upgrading your skill set. Various online platforms like upGrad or Simplilearn have come up with courses that could update your resume with the skills that job forces are in search of right now. These have indeed been troubling times but with the relevant skills, even the toughest mountains can be climbed.