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There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has highlighted existing workforce challenges across the country while making them more urgent and complex. Even pre-COVID-19, technology was predicted to shake up the very nature of work.

In light of the pandemic, this is now compounded by an increase in unemployment and the inability for businesses to access skilled migration. As a nation, we need to take a deeper look at the future of work, jobs and reskilling local workers. It hasn’t all been doom and gloom. There are some silver linings and positive gains that have been accelerated by the pandemic, including new ways of working, digital adoption and collaboration.

A mindset shift is required; away from a ‘war over talent’ and towards partnership to build a world-class labour market. Now is the time to rethink the investments that are needed and the role of government to make this happen.

According to a PWC report, meaningful impact can be made in these areas:

  1. Continuing to support the most vulnerable across society.

The impact of COVID-19 is not evenly felt. The budget can look to address opportunities to support job creation for individuals, regions and industries that are most impacted by COVID-19.

Employees in retail, arts, food, travel and accommodation services have been most impacted. They are often faced with lower wages, less industrial protection and support. Those working across the non-permanent workforce (i.e. the gig economy) are vulnerable to labour market displacement.

Unemployment is most likely going to impact people at the extremes of their working lives – younger and older workers – and also adversely impact females. The drop in female participation was initially twice that for males and the largest changes in jobs (since the week ending 14 March) was for people aged 20-29 (7.9% decrease) and 70+ years (11.3% decrease). Supporting those disproportionately affected is essential.

  • Embedding micro-credentials.

Skills will underpin post-COVID economic recovery. This ranges from an extension of the JobTrainer scheme beyond trades to enable broader reskilling, supporting the development of capabilities like digital literacy and resilience that have become more profound in recent times, and removing barriers to adult education in an environment of mass unemployment.

Australia needs a recovery that’s built on the future of work, on supporting job creation and upskilling supported by government initiatives.

Bastain Consulting in partnership with Recruiters Give Back provides completely free non-obligatory resources for the unemployed caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This free service will help job seekers think of ideas to help take the next step forward in their job search and the best documentation to put forward during an interview process. To get started, click here