The Labor Market in the Post-Pandemic Era
According to the most recent Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, 50% of employees will need new skills training by 2025 as the pace of technological innovation continues to grow. Among business leaders, 94% say they expect employees to learn new skills while on the job, compared to just 65% who made that claim in 2018.
However, the amount of time it takes to reskill will depend on the industry, according to the online learning platform Coursera. For example, only one or two months is necessary to acquire skills in emerging professions such as content writing, sales and marketing; in contrast, it could take up to three months to expand skills in product development, data and artificial intelligence. Skills needed for roles in cloud computing and engineering could take up to four months. Among soft skills that will increase in demand, critical thinking and problem-solving top the list. But post-pandemic, skills in resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility also are highly valued.
This recognition of the need for new skills training opens up avenues for all types of people, even retirees and middle-aged professionals who would like to change careers. After all, the acquisition of skills based on new technologies means no one will have a huge edge in terms of experience. Therefore, people with the ability to learn technical skills quickly – who already possess high-value soft skills – have strong potential to vie for a new career. If you’re thinking about making such a move, we’d be happy to review your financial portfolio to help make sure you are on the right path toward your retirement.
Another labor trend is the rise of remote work and its impact on employees’ lifestyles. With the pandemic clearing the way for many white-collar workers to work remotely, younger workers have been able to move to more affordable locales and buy their first homes. On the other hand, established homeowners can now consider relocating to wherever they’d like to retire, trading in their current home equity for their retirement home – with a plan to pay off that final mortgage while they’re still working. This way, they can move and start enjoying a retirement lifestyle near the beach, lake or mountains while still gainfully employed, albeit working remotely.
Unfortunately, low-skilled, blue-collar professions are on the other side of that coin. Many either lost jobs during the pandemic or were classified as high-risk “essential workers.” Just because grocery store clerks became essential, it doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in pay or benefits. While the debate over raising the national minimum wage continues in Washington, there’s little doubt that many low-paying jobs will always be necessary, but experienced workers in those positions are not necessarily low-skilled.
For example, what is the value of caregivers who can skillfully attend to mobility-challenged people? Or workers who serve multiple tables of hungry and thirsty patrons who want their meal yesterday? Skills like patience and equanimity have not traditionally received the same level of pay as an office worker, but they are no less valued or necessary. It will be interesting to see, post-pandemic, if these types of jobs begin to translate into fair pay and good benefits.
After decades of steady decline, labor unions are hoping for greater respect and participation moving forward – based on support by President Joe Biden’s administration. Today, only one in five households has a union member, and the Economic Policy Institute estimates the decline of unions translates to an average loss of $3,250 per year for a full-time worker. Biden is advocating passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) bill, which would abolish state laws that ban mandatory collection of dues as a condition of employment, penalize businesses that retaliate among union drives and extend federal labor rights to independent contract workers. So far, the House has approved the legislation, but it faces a more difficult path in the Senate.
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