Credit: Amy Hirschi
According to the most recent statistics from the International Labour Organization, 220 million people are expected to remain unemployed globally by the end of 2021. And while the global unemployment rate may fall to 5.7 percent in 2022, it’s still more than the pre-COVID-19 rate of 5.4 percent. The pandemic’s effect on unemployment around the world has been well-documented, and for many countries, getting people back into work will be key in ensuring economies rebound in 2022.
Despite the high levels of unemployment, some advanced economies are facing labour shortages, with thousands of job openings and not enough workers to fill the gaps, placing increased pressure on global supply chains.
So, what’s to blame and where’s the solution? Palladium’s Becky Brocklehurst from the UK-based Restart scheme and Tracy Ferrier from the UK aid-funded Skills for Prosperity share their thoughts on how employment services and workforce training will play a part in solving the unemployment crisis in 2022.
“Unlike unemployment crises of the past, there are loads of jobs available right now. The difference is that job seekers either don’t have the skills needed for them or haven’t been thinking about jobs in those sectors,” says Brocklehurst. For many job seekers, this could mean reassessing the sector in which they’re searching for a job or rethinking how their current skills could translate to a different and available role.
“All these jobs are out there, but there’s a need to get job seekers ready and thinking about the jobs that are there rather than those that aren’t.” As Brocklehurst adds, that may be as simple as providing a week-long training for jobseekers on what a job in a particular sector would look like, giving them insights into a potential role and how their experiences to date could translate to the job.
For those in the employment services sector, it’s about encouraging and coaching job seekers to think differently about their skills, what’s transferrable, and what have they done before that could be applied to a different job.
Developing the Whole Person
Hard skills on a resume are useful, but Ferrier believes that organisations offering training and employment services should also consider developing job seekers as a whole person. “Getting a qualification is one thing but developing a well-rounded person with work experience that’s relevant for and adaptable to the needs of the labour market will be critical for job seekers.”
There is more focus now on providing work experience and comprehensive careers advice and guidance. For young people, their teachers or families may not be aware of the range of occupations now available or those with the best career opportunities. “Supporting individuals to understand their interests and strengths and relevance to the labour market will help them to make the right career decisions,” adds Ferrier.
“If you’re thinking about a young person, they have a whole career ahead of them, and short-term employer needs aren’t enough for their career and career’s longevity.” Ferrier explains that when it comes to training and developing the whole person, it falls on everyone in the ecosystem, from schools and training centres to the employers themselves.
“If someone is moving from their training into their job, the first three months are really critical for their future and future success,” she notes. “Work programs should be delivering training to young people with a focus on employment transitions, from mentoring and coaching to practical things like helping them with what to wear and how to communicate clearly and confidently in work settings.”
“Supporting individuals to understand their strengths and relevance to the labour market will help them make the right career decisions.”
This goes both ways, and employers must also be willing to establish training in order to set their employees up for success and support young people new to the job to make the most of their talent.
Mental Health Support
The past two years have been fraught with anxieties and strain for many. COVID-19 not only upended lives, jobs, and livelihoods but ushered in a new way of working and managing day-to-day activities. With those changes, like any change, comes anxiety and stress, which translates directly to the job market.
According to Brocklehurst, views on commuting and even getting people to come in person for interviews has been a new challenge and will continue to be in the coming months, but those organisations that provide job seekers and employees with mental health support will find more success with new employees. “Anxiety management, support, and counselling, as well as the need for a flexible approach will be critical,” she says.
It all ties together, from employers providing mental health support to cope with a changing market, to the training to translate past roles to new and available ones. Though the pandemic’s effects on the job market and unemployment crisis in 2022 are bound to continue, those job seekers willing to learn, adjust, and be flexible are more likely to land on their feet.
On the other side of the coin, organisations or employment service providers who seek out translatable skills on resumes and offer practical training will not only gain better-prepared employees but are more likely to retain them through this crisis and beyond.
The UK aid-funded Skills for Prosperity (S4P) program supports the education and skills development of marginalised groups in nine countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. By improving their work readiness, S4P helps partner countries to have a diverse workforce with skills for the future and to drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction. Learn more about S4P on their Twitter and LinkedIn.
Restart is a UK based contract commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions and is delivered across the UK in 12 Contract areas. The Restart scheme has GBP 2.9 billion allocated to it and aims to support Universal Credit claimants who have been out of work for 12+ months to find sustainable work.
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