Surrey Business News

Ar­ti­cle by Kerry Jothen

- Business · Unemployment · Entrepreneurship · Employment · Society · London School of Economics · London · British Columbia · World Economic Forum · Richard Layard · Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development · Newfoundland and Labrador

• Well­ness sup­ports to ad­dress worker trauma and fears will be para­mount.

• Mea­sures to fa­cil­i­tate the learn­ing and em­ploy­ment of post­sec­ondary grad­u­ates of 2020, in­clud­ing more ro­bust co-op­er­a­tive ed­u­ca­tion, in­tern­ships and other work-in­te­grated learn­ing.

• Use of ex­ist­ing and new gov­ern­ment train­ing and in­come sup­port pro­grams in­clud­ing:

- The ex­ist­ing Bc-canada Job Grant and Train­ing Tax Credit to sup­port reskilling and up­skilling;

- Tran­si­tion sup­ports and grants to help work­ers re-em­ploy/re­de­ploy to new jobs (in their pre­vi­ous or new in­dus­tries);

- In­come sup­port to fa­cil­i­tate older work bridg­ing to re­tire­ment, in­clud­ing flex­i­bil­ity in the fed­eral CERB and CEWS sup­ports; and - Adapt the Cana­dian Train­ing Ben­e­fit an­nounced in the 2019 bud­get for use with in­di­vid­u­als train­ing for new jobs.

• Eas­ier worker ac­cess to child­care and elder care ben­e­fits and ser­vices.

• Tai­lored sup­ports and ini­tia­tives for ru­ral, re­mote and Indige­nous busi­nesses and work­ers.

• Ru­ral, re­mote and Indige­nous-spe­cific work­force strate­gies for re-em­ploy­ment/re-de­ploy­ment

• Sec­tor job vul­ner­a­bil­ity as­sess­ments and strate­gies.

• Bet­ter col­lec­tion, anal­y­sis and ap­pli­ca­tion of real-time work­force/ labour mar­ket data.

Ev­ery­thing must be done to en­sure those im­pacted by the pan­demic do not slide into long-term unem­ploy­ment. Richard La­yard at the Lon­don School of Eco­nom­ics calls for a na­tional pro­gram for dis­placed work­ers in­volv­ing one year of in­come sup­port dur­ing train­ing and a guar­an­tee of­fer of em­ploy­ment with a pri­vate, public or vol­un­tary em­ployer: “There needs to be a huge ef­fort… un­like pre­vi­ous re­ces­sions, this one was de­lib­er­ately cre­ated by gov­ern­ments. They have a duty to pro­tect those mostly af­fected” (Fi­nan­cial Times, May 9).

A re­cent OECD sur­vey of busi­ness groups laid out a frame­work for work­force ac­tion in the pan­demic:

• Re­duc­ing taxes on labour

• In­creas­ing in­cen­tives for com­pa­nies to hire and keep em­ploy­ees at work

• In­creas­ing labour mar­ket flex­i­bil­ity

• Re­train­ing the un­em­ployed

• Dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, public in­fra­struc­ture and in­no­va­tion

• Less red tape and more co­op­er­a­tion

Canada and BC have a his­tory of launch­ing work­force tran­si­tion ini­tia­tives for spe­cific sec­tors (e.g. forestry, man­u­fac­tur­ing, min­ing), cer­tain re­gions (e.g. New­found­land and Labrador) and in re­sponse to global de­vel­op­ments (e.g. cli­mate change) and ma­jor pol­icy de­vel­op­ments (e.g. trade agree­ments). COVID-19 rep­re­sents work­force im­pacts even big­ger and broader-scale than any of these. We also should rely on the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ers and busi­nesses that ex­pe­ri­enced ma­jor tran­si­tion in forestry, min­ing, oil and gas, man­u­fac­tur­ing and other ma­jor dis­rup­tions in the last forty years.


COVID-19 has ex­pe­dited the ar­rival of the ‘fu­ture of work’. In the long-term, the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum sug­gests ways to ‘re­set­ting’ labour mar­kets for re­cov­ery:

1. Dou­bling down on up­skilling and reskilling;

2. Iden­ti­fy­ing the jobs of to­mor­row in­clud­ing in the ‘Care Econ­omy’, dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and e-com­merce;

3. Pri­or­i­tiz­ing re-de­ploy­ment and re-em­ploy­ment;

4. Re­valu­ing es­sen­tial work and im­prov­ing the qual­ity of jobs; and

5. Ef­fect­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive re­cov­ery, re­set and re­build.

Re­cent ad­vice from Mck­in­sey & Com­pany reads like it came right out the BC Gov­ern­ment’s and Dr. Bon­nie Henry’s play­book: “Com­mu­ni­cat­ing clearly to cit­i­zens and em­ploy­ees about ac­tions, time­lines, and ex­pected out­comes is an­other crit­i­cal fac­tor. The more fac­tual and for­ward look­ing your mes­sages are, the faster the con­fi­dence will re­turn – and the faster eco­nomic re­cov­ery can be­gin.”

With BC Gov­ern­ment lead­er­ship, lever­ag­ing fed­eral sup­port, and a part­ner­ship ap­proach with busi­ness and in­dus­try, we can col­lec­tively max­i­mize re­turn to busi­ness and em­ploy­ment in BC and re­duce fear and un­cer­tainty mov­ing into the new nor­mal and cre­ate re­silient, nim­ble en­ter­prises.

Kerry Jothen, B.A., M.A., is prin­ci­pal of Hu­man Cap­i­tal Strate­gies and has over 40 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in hu­man cap­i­tal roles. HCS is one of the long­est-stand­ing in­de­pen­dent strate­gic plan­ning, work­force re­search and strat­egy de­vel­op­ment con­sul­tan­cies in BC.

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