The Pandemic Job Market: What’s in Store

By Isabella Diez

The COVID-19 pandemic has shocked 2020 and brought unprecedented challenges to billions around the globe. The implementation of government sanctioned lockdowns has drastically changed the job market. In Canada, hundreds of businesses have shut down, leaving millions of individuals without employment. This current reality has countless people facing the stress and uncertainty that comes with unforeseen job loss. How can Canadians approach this time of unpredictability in their work life?

In April and May of 2020, 3 million Canadians lost their jobs, bringing the unemployment rate to 13.7 percent. This set a new all time high since 1982, when the unemployment rate was 12.8 percent. With the relaxing of restrictions on businesses and organizations over the summer months,  the unemployment rate improved somewhat and currently stands at 10.8 percent as of August 2020.  

The true short and long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult to predict and so it is hard to have any clarity regarding the job market in the long run. The 2008 financial crisis led to various changes in government initiatives and policies with regards to dealing with future economic challenges, however, the current global crisis is unlike anything seen before. 

“Looking ahead to what jobs might exist on the other side of this crisis (…) it is more important now than ever to better prepare workers”, says Sarah Doyle, Director of Policy and Research at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, on the changing job market.

 There is indication that high demand jobs will be characterized as the following: service-oriented, requiring technical or creative skills, or cognitive skills that can not be replaced by automation. 

In contrast,  A.R. Elangovan, Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business, states that “the art and entertainment, recreations, hospitality, tourism – those sectors will take the longest to recover because they all depend on the physical presence of people and the gathering of people.”

How have students been affected by this shift in the job market? It goes without saying that these unpredictable times have had a negative impact on the lives of  students. The pandemic created a difficult job market with many summer jobs and internships disappearing, leaving countless students without a means of income or valuable work experience. In addition, new graduates, eager to break into the workforce, are entering a job market with many obstacles. Interviews are difficult to secure with many companies decreasing their numbers of employees or halting their hiring initiatives. 

With job opportunities being limited, many new graduates are unable to find entry level jobs. Not able to pay their bills and student loans, a large number are being forced to move back home with their parents. Following this trend, this population will see themselves moving out later, getting married later, and having children later. As it stands, the uncertainty of the current job market threatens the livelihood of post-graduates. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the lives of many in the workforce. With unemployment at an all time high this year, many Canadians have been placed in difficult economic situations. Students entering the workforce are faced with future uncertainty and financial struggle.   And yet, even in challenging economic times, opportunities can present themselves and can even foster an attitude of adaptability and resilience. 

Photo by LYCS Architecture, Unsplash

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