Surrey Business News
Article by Kerry Jothen
• 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.
LONG-TERM WORKFORCE STRATEGIES
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.