Coronavirus May Kill Thousands of Small Businesses. Here's How to Create Jobs for Those in Need.
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Three years ago, most of the hiring managers I spoke with were reluctant to manage remote teams. Nowadays, they are learning how to do it the hard way as out of sudden entire countries have been quarantined due to coronavirus outbreak. First, it was Italy to be followed by Bulgaria, Spain, the Check Republic and more countries are added to the list daily.
As the population of many European countries is aging, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria included, a significant part falls in the high-risk group. To protect them, as well as everyone else, people were asked to stay and work from home when possible. Shops, restaurants, cafes, beauty salons and literally all businesses besides supermarkets and pharmacies have been closed. Although most big businesses can survive generating no revenue for a month (or even a few months), thousands of small businesses will be facing bankruptcy. The losses to the global economy are enormous and it is early to forecast the long-term impact.
Inevitably, an economic slowdown and crashed financial markets will lead to layoffs.
“Currently, the closely watched Goldman Sachs economic outlook is forecasting 0% growth for the first quarter of this year and −5% contraction (expressed as an annualized rate) for the second quarter. Given the cratering of demand already evident in data from restaurant reservations and airlines and accommodations, this may already be an overly optimistic forecast, but we’ll stick with it for now. This forecast implies that the economy will shrink by roughly 1.25% from January to June (2.5% at annualized rates for half a year).’’ Source: epi.org
Given the figures above, it is likely that in the U.S. alone, 3 million jobs will be lost by the summer even though that some experts are certain that COVID-19 outbreak will be under control by June 2020.
So, which sectors are severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and how to create work-from-home jobs for people who have lost their jobs or taken an extended unpaid leave?
Providing equal access to jobs and secure payment is a mission for Transformify HR Suite. To us, diversity hiring means providing jobs to people in need regardless of their age, gender, race, personal situation or location. Having access to information about the skills possessed by people in need of a job is essential to encourage businesses to create jobs for them. As Transformify is used by 4700+ business clients and millions of job seekers worldwide, we had enough data to conduct research and outline a communication plan. Being part of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition of the European Commission, we are well aware of the fact that businesses don't have sufficient information about the skills possessed by people in need. What is even more important is that people working in the industries badly hit by COVID -19 outbreak usually have the so-called ‘’transferable skills’ which could add value to other industries.
In general, there are two types of jobs that can be created for people in need of a job due to coronavirus outbreak and quarantine:
Contract jobs. Usually 3- to 12- month contracts to address temporary business needs. Contract jobs can be adapted to work from home arrangements in certain cases.
Freelance jobs or gigs. These are short term assignments or ‘’jobs per hour’’ and the majority of them can be adapted to work from home arrangements. Even though freelance jobs are a temporary solution, they can be beneficial to both individuals who need an additional source of income and businesses that can’t afford to hire on a full-time or contract basis due to budget constraints. Sadly, it is expected that by the summer, many businesses will fall into this category.
A paradigm shift is required to provide job opportunities to people in need living in the cities most negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Recruiters tend to judge based on the last job title without taking into account the entire skillset of a candidate. If this remains unchanged, lots of people will be bound to living on welfare as entire industries will be cutting jobs at scale. Put simply, if the perception is that a tour agent can be offered only jobs related to their most recent occupation, they are likely to be unemployed for a long time even though they have transferrable skills.
Here are the industries and professions that are likely to be badly hit by the coronavirus outbreak:
As several countries have declared a state of emergency and country-wide quarantine, borders have been closed. Even if travel is allowed, often travelers from the most affected countries are not welcomed and required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Due to the uncertainty, most travelers prefer to postpone their travel plans unless travel is absolutely necessary. Canceled reservations, lack of new reservations and refunds are just part of the challenges faced by the businesses in this sector.
A few days ago, a group of 80 UK tourists has been quarantined in a hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria as some of them appeared to be COVID-19 positive. Initially, the group was on a ski vacation in Bansko, one of renowned Bulgarian ski resorts. Once COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, the tour agency organizing the trip has decided to organize transport to Sofia airport and fly the tourists back home via a charter. Meanwhile, the ski resort has been closed for tourists and visitors in general to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Sadly, the above is not an isolated case. Tourist agencies are not only facing financial losses, their employees are exposed to a much higher health risk as they interact with tourists who may have visited any of the countries severely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak like China, Italy, Spain, South Korea.
Even in a few months, when the travel bans will hopefully no longer be in place, people are less likely to plan vacations and travel abroad. Many have lost part of their income due to unpaid leaves. Already, many businesses in the industry have started cutting jobs in an attempt to minimize the costs and stay in business.
What jobs can be created for those who work in tourism?
Usually, people involved in the industry speak several languages and have outstanding communication skills. Dealing with difficult customers is part of the job and can become an asset for other businesses. Call center agents, multi-lingual customer support, sales, on-line language classes are just examples of contract jobs and freelance gigs.
Hotels, restaurants and cafes have been shut down in many countries due to health and safety reasons. Less tourists and low summer season are likely to result in bankruptcies leaving many seasonal and full-time workers on the street. On top of that, they are in a less favorable situation versus those working in the tourism industry as waiters, baristas and chefs have specific skill sets that are not easily transferable to other industries.
Analyzing Transformify HR Suite job seeker database, we found some skills that may help those working in HoReCa to secure freelance gigs. These include online data entry jobs, image labeling and image tagging as these types of freelance jobs require basic digital skills possessed by most people working in HoReCa. Some chefs may partner with food bloggers and Instagram influencers who regularly outsource part of the image and video creation. Cooking in front of a camera is a time-consuming exercise.
Taxi Drivers / Uber Drivers
During the quarantine, most people are required to stay and work from home. At best, taxi drivers generate less income, at worst they are not allowed to work at all during the quarantine. Car lease payments, franchise payments and the like are a financial burden for many who are likely to end up on welfare. Not everyone is eligible for unemployment payments, though. Those who are not are left with no source of income at all. The situation is not likely to improve going forward as massive job cuts are expected and people will be less willing to spend on taxi opting for the public transportation instead.
However, taxi drivers and Uber drivers appear to be the most diverse group of them all having a variety of transferable skills. Many even have a college degree and opt to drive a taxi or Uber to make more money and stay independent. Surprisingly, Transformify HR Suite research identified that people in Eastern Europe, Italy, Spain and the US are almost equally likely to become taxi or Uber drivers even when they have a profession. We’ve seen former journalists, nurses, pre-school teachers and the list goes on. As skills vary, there are a variety of freelance jobs that can be created for this group of people ranging from online language teachers to copywriters, bloggers, data entry, etc.
These days corporate social responsibility is not what it used to be prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Diversity hiring is not only having all groups represented by specifically creating jobs for people in need of a job in the areas most negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Last but not least, it is time for recruiters to look at the broader skillset and give a chance to candidates who have prior experience with different industries but can put transferable skills, energy and motivation on the table.