Job Market Post Covid
Life is certainly uncertain. However most of us would have expected this uncertainty to be restricted to personal lives. Who could have thought that this uncertainty can percolate from atoms to airplanes of the world we live in? Covid came as a Tsunami- sudden and severe- but not exactly receding as the natural phenomenon. It is persisting; it is growing and is fiercely spreading.
The roller coaster ride has just started- far from being over. No one knows when will it end, how much will be the physical and economic toll and how will it change the world. But one thing is for sure – it has thrashed the livelihoods of millions. Obviously the first rational response is to give precedence to life over livelihood. If you can save your life, only then will you be able to earn. But the tipping point is soon approaching where lives themselves will parish without livelihoods. So the choice is between dying empty stomach or to fill our bellies somehow until (and hopefully not) one gets the final call from the Almighty. A horrendous situation to be in, right?Let us look into the effected job scenario in detail.
Magnitude -As per one of the leading magazines of India, Outlook, 100 million and more Indian jobs are at risk due to Covid-19. Almost all sectors have been impacted by the pandemic. While earlier crisis that we have seen were restricted to a couple of industries, this time the pandemic has spared none. Hence the resulting gravity of the situation is quite palpable.
- Uncertainty- International Monetary Fund has observed that the economic fallout of Corona pandemic is the worst situation the world has faced after the Great Depression of the 1930s. While the effects of great depression continued for almost a decade, the exact repercussion of Covid-19 is still not known. It may be anywhere between six months to a few years. Three scenarios are predicted for recovery -a V-shaped recovery, a U-shaped one or an L-shaped one. U-shaped scenario is more likely.
- Impacted Sectors - Sectors such as hospitality, travel, retail, entertainment, auto, real estate and traditional education are the worst hit. Almost 70% of the jobs are hit in hospitality & tourism followed by 50% in automobile and 25% in education. Customers have restricted themselves from travelling, staying, dining out, going to movies and shopping thus creating economic crunch. Travel, and especially Airlines, is not expected to gain momentum in coming few years.
- Performing Sectors – Although Covid for most part has negative connotation, yet for some sectors it has come as a boon. Work-from-home (WFH) scenario that caught the job market has much to do with IT and automations. New technologies such as RPA, Block Chain, Data Science, AI & ML are trying to reduce human intervention. Consequently, IT has not slowed down. In fact all major IT companies in India have hinted on hiring this fiscal. Similarly Online Learning/ Ed Tech has seen phenomenal growth. Along with job slaughter comes the necessity to up-skill and remaining relevant. Coupled with more control over what one does in WFH, people are on a learning spree. Shift of school learning to online mode is adding fuel to fire. Companies like Edureka, Upgrad, Udacity, EdX, Byju’s, Vedantu and White Hat Junior are driving the otherwise lull marketplace. Healthcare and pharma sectors are perhaps the biggest gainers in this crisis.
- Freelancing & Contractual Jobs – With dwindling company coffers, a new trend is being witnessed. Rather than retaining or hiring manpower, companies are moving towards assignment-based hiring. Thus today you can see job postings, even at managerial level, ranging from 3 months to a year. Shorter freelance assignments are also dished out to job hungry public at large. Thus a new ‘gig’ culture is born which was earlier restricted to Ubers and Urban Claps of the world. In present job scenario, even long term ‘white collar’ employees who have served over decades, are being promptly handed pink slips as a matter of fact. A Deloitte report titled 'Future of work accelerated'observed that Indian organizations are considering expanding the share of gig workers, as dependence on full-time workers reduces.
- Temporary Job Regulations - are very weak and precisely this is why some companies prefer hiring contractual people. They are easy to onboard, easy to fire and don’t come with a baggage of employee rights. This can lead to work related harassments and pay bungling. The Karnataka government is reportedly deliberating to introduce new labour legislation focused on the gig economy. Technology offers adequate solutions for distributed and collaborative workplaces. However industry would need to redefine the new rules of ‘office’.
- Entrepreneurship - Corona has not even spared the startups. These very startups that were seen as growth engine of the country are now limping for survival. Such organizations have a very small risk & financial buffer and are the worst hit. People working here are at greater peril of losing jobs. Even simple entrepreneurial ventures, such as opening a shop, are marred with financial risks that people aren’t willing to take now.
- Fresher Jobs- India has almost 23 million students in various colleges and universities studying in bachelor programmes. Most of them are either waiting to for final assessments to be done or are looking out to a bleak job market. Even if hired, companies have issued letter of intent rather than final offer letters to fresh hires. In such a scenario a prudent approach for placement offices, students and parents would be to prepare for free lance opportunities in addition to regular campus placements.
- Post Covid Job Skills –Community Health, Paramedics, Laboratory Testing, Pharmacy, Occupational Safety, Waste Management, Online Training, Digital Marketing, Cyber Security, Industry 4.0 skills andVlogging are some fields that seem to remain in high demand for time to come.
Covid-19 has proved to be an inflection point. Countries, economies and people have been caught unaware by the pandemic. It has indelibly changed the way we work and will continue to impact us atleast in the foreseeable future. New job avenues are created, even though paycheck amount will remain a constraint. Those who adapt to new job skill will be able to tide the waves and survive.