World Bank Group economist Amanina Abdur Rahman tells StarBiz that there are certain groups of people and industries who are more vulnerable to job losses during these challenging times. JOB losses have been one of the undesired side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. This phenomenon could continue to cause insecurity in people about their jobs as they continuously evaluate the future of the industries in which they work. Future survivability of industries within the new normal will continue to keep people on edge, as a real recovery from this slump could lie further ahead than had been initially thought as a truly proven and safe vaccine may take a longer time to be realised. At this juncture, World Bank Group economist Amanina Abdur Rahman tells StarBiz that there are certain groups of people and industries who are more vulnerable to job losses during these challenging times. “Different groups of people are affected differently by the current pandemic. “New research published by the World Bank reveals that those without formal education and people from rural areas are more likely to have jobs that cannot be performed from home compared to their more educated and urban counterparts, ” Amanina said. “Meanwhile, other evidence suggests that women are affected by care responsibilities, both for children and the elderly, due to the closure of schools and the health risk of sending family members to care centres, ” she added. More worryingly, Amanina said that the most at-risk workers typically have only relatively precarious sources of income and little savings. “Frequently, they also have no access to the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS), the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or other social insurance that can help workers weather the crisis, ” she said. She also noted that this finding was not just peculiar to Malaysia but similar patterns have also been observed in Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. In the midst of job insecurity during these times, she said that employees could consider training or upskilling themselves. “Obtaining employment in this current environment, for all groups of people, requires upskilling and reskilling, particularly to obtain digital and socio-emotional skills, where socio-emotional skills include skills such as resilience, teamwork, negotiation, and relationship management, ” she said. Being flexible to other related areas of work could be an important trait workers could posture towards, and this is especially so for people who have had very specialised jobs prior to the pandemic. “Workers, including self-employed persons who have lost their income and workers who have been trained in very specialised fields, would have to upskill and reskill themselves to be able to be re-employed, ” Amanina said. She said the pandemic had accelerated the changes in the nature of work as a result of the rapid technological change and automation that were already underway prior to the crisis. “It has increased the demand for digital and socio-emotional skills. “In this current environment, these skills are also required to obtain jobs that can be performed from home, which is a trend that is expected to persist even after the crisis, ” she said. Moving forward, businesses that are expected to be more resilient during the pandemic are those that involve digital and internet-based platforms. “Some sectors, such as tourism and retail, have been more hard-hit by the crisis, and will likely take longer to recover, particularly should Covid-19 persist. “Conversely, other sectors that are better able to weather the impact of the movement restrictions include finance, insurance and services related to information and communications, ” Amanina said. She stressed on the importance of workers having socio-emotional skills as the workforce evolves. “It is important in the advent of rapid technological change and automation. “Importantly, these skills are adaptable across sectors, and therefore, increase the likelihood of workers being able to obtain jobs in the current environment, as well as in the post-Covid-19 economy, ” she said. “Workers can take advantage of online classes and certifications that are available in order to obtain these skills, as well as some of the training incentives that have been introduced by the government as part of the Penjana (economic stimulus) package, ” she added.
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