Every fortnight, we hand over the blog to one of the London Shapers, to give you a flavour of what they do, how they think and what's really going on in our hearts and minds. Today's piece comes from Adebusuyi (Ade) Adeyemi, who is a Global Health Policy Expert.
The coronavirus has infected more than 5.8 million people globally leading to more than 360,000 deaths at current counting. Unfortunately, it has great potential to infect more people. The COVID-19 crisis has already resulted in a labour market and economic shock, thus affecting the demand and supply of goods and services.
Governments around the world are trying coordinated and swift measures (at a global and national level) to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce (the total number of people that are able to work). However, these measures have not completely worked, as the pandemic is proving to be worse than everyone expected.
Impact of COVID-19 on employment across occupations and industries
In the US for example, more than 40 million individuals have already filed for unemployment. In the five weeks starting from 15th March to 18th April, record unemployment claims were experienced across the United States. Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Georgia, and Florida each had more than one million people claiming benefits. In California, this number was more than three million.
This situation has been experienced in other countries like China, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, and France. These claims only represent a small picture of COVID-19’s impact on the workforce. According to numerous studies, hundreds of millions of workers around the world are vulnerable to temporary unpaid leave, pay cuts, and reduced hours.
How COVID-19 is affecting young people
The pandemic has a huge negative impact on the economy. Although there are still a few sectors growing as more individuals swap to bigger supermarkets and use more technology, the majority of firms are experiencing a massive hit.
Unfortunately, if you happen to graduate or have recently graduated at such a time, you can experience penalties that can last for a very long time. The pandemic has made it hard for young people to find and keep a job, and increase their earnings. This year’s graduates will find it difficult to succeed in the labour market and secure a job.
However, there are a few opportunities associated with this pandemic. A lot of people think that the number of students will reduce due to the impact of the pandemic. However, recession means that individuals tend to want more advanced education since the alternative, unemployment, is worse, and having extra skills can help you get through a recession.
While the number of international students is expected to decrease, more domestic graduates will likely enrol in higher education programmes. The result is having highly skilled workers when the pandemic comes to an end.
A research paper by economists at the University of Warwick argues that the 20-30 year old workforce would be at relatively low risk of suffering severe cases of COVID-19 if they began to rejoin the workforce and breathe some life back into the economy. It also suggests that 20-30 year olds may feel the economic impact of remaining in lockdown more severely than older adults.
There are no easy answers in this crisis. How might that shape our world? As ever, prevention is better than cure.
Measures of fighting COVID-19 to sustain the workforce
1. Protecting workers in the workplace
This helps minimize the direct impacts of COVID-19. To do this an organization should implement stable Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) measures, prevent exclusion and description, encourage adoption of a flexible working environment like teleworking.
2. Stimulating labour and economy demand
Effective employment and economic policies should be enacted to stabilize the economy. Such measures include accommodative monetary policies, active fiscal policies, and offering financial support to specific sectors like the travel and tourism sector.
3. Supporting employment and incomes
This can be accomplished by offering tax relief for Small & Medium Enterprises, and employment retention measures like paid leave and short-time work.
Adebusuyi (Ade) Adeyemi is a Global Health Policy Expert who works as an Assistant Director at the Think Tank Chatham House, where he supports Ministry of Health stakeholders across Africa, by strengthening their leadership and policy development capacity. He also works in the 'Head Office' of the NHS in Britain, working on International Health policy for the NHS. Ade is also the Managing Director of the world’s biggest Global Health Jobs platform www.globalhealthjobs.com