Money Magazine Australia

The challenge: Sally Sinclair

Extra skills will be needed to survive in high-risk fields

- Sally Sinclair

When it comes to women in the workforce, the biggest challenge remains one of equality. It is a long and ongoing battle highlighte­d recently by the fact that women were the most adversely affected by the pandemic. Female-heavy sectors like accommodat­ion and food services, retail, healthcare and social assistance were in the top five most-hit sectors, followed by education and training.

The way to help women to Covid-proof their work begins with looking at how we better support people in casual and parttime work to develop their skills, so they are not confronted with so much risk.

A key skill that helped many people keep their jobs during lockdown was the capacity to work from home and here women are also challenged. There are stories of women doing teleconfer­ences from wardrobes

because it was the only quiet space in the house. Having the technology, the space and the skills to pivot is a key way to lockdown-proof any work.

This year is really is going to be a game changer in the job market: the key themes will be “unpredicta­bility” and “adaptabili­ty”. For women, protecting their fragile work in these high-risk areas means being open to moving into more secure fields. Or starting at an entry level in your chosen field and doing some “laddering”, a practice whereby you build yourself up in the career while working in it. There are options other than just full-time education and training for some of these higher roles; you can do part time, online study while working and move, for example, from basic support work to being a nurse in three or four years and get paid while doing it.

Understand where the trends are in the labour market and look for the growth sectors. For example, healthcare and social assistance is the fastest growing sector because of the growth in demand for aged and disability care. The sector needs to double in size over the next 10 years.

Women need to get better at promoting their skills, in particular transferab­le skills such as raising a family and running a house, to an employer in a convincing way; they tend to dismiss those skills as they are not obtained in the workplace. The foundation­s for employment for all people are skills like problem-solving and working with other people. Parents can generally demonstrat­e these skills in spades, but people need to think about them and not be shy promoting them.

It will be a year that is all about jobs, but there will be more people looking for jobs than in decades past and the skills you need in a post-Covid landscape are changing. All workers need to change with it.

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