What’s the HOPE for a de-stabilized labor market?

As the economy transitions to regain its foothold, there must exist a continuous flow of highly-skilled and well-developed careerists who are prepared to enter or re-enter the workforce. As with the Great Recession of 2007- 2010, COVID-19 has presented an economic downturn that has de-stabilized the labor market, thereby forcing many Americans to consider new career opportunities and access to online education. This is more reality like never before!

Our social norm has been decimated and the “new-norm” is at the cusp of its formation. A careful watch of our nation’s continued response to COVID-19 amid the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), will yield the common social practices for what will soon be accepted as the Official New Norm. While many speculations are looming social media platforms for how and why COVID-19 has come to be, we need not exhaust our intensive creativities on the realities that have been imposed upon all humanity. The harsh imposition is that this pandemic has brought irreversible gloom to families across the World but in this devastation, there is HOPE. And maybe the “rise-and-shine” from this experience is a season of change that is transformative for all.

With more than 26.5 million Americans presently unemployed, the workforce eco-system has a tremendous responsibility to engage the labor-force.

So, what’s the HOPE for a de-stabilized labor market? Recall the 2007-2010 economic downturn known as The Great Recession. This downturn tremendously affected the stability of the labor force as 8.8 million Americans lost their job, and the impacts of this downturn created a new norm for access to education opportunities and high-demand careers. While the impacts of the Great Recession pale in comparison to those of COVID-19, the most significant transition to note during that time was the increase of mal-employed persons. Mal-employment is a sub-set of under-employment and is a concept that was made a reality by the recession. This concept identified persons with advanced college degrees who were over-skilled working in underpaid positions. At the onset, mal-employment was determined to be:

  • persons who possess more education and a higher level of skills
  • persons who were involuntarily employed in a job that was not related to his/her area of study
  • persons who were involuntarily employed in a part-time position
  • persons who earned substantially less than their previous job or earned less than the market salary for their area of study

(Read the article by U.S. Department of Labor, Rising Mal-Employment and the Great Recession)

This transition most commonly led persons to journey new career pathways within the industry they were mal-employed; a commonality during that period which led persons to pursue online education opportunities for “upskilling”. Well, our present state of the workforce mimics much the same…

With more than 26.5 million Americans presently unemployed, the workforce eco-system has a tremendous responsibility to engage the labor-force. This hasn’t come as a surprise but it certainly comes with challenges and lessons learned from The Great Recession. Those lessons revealed that the majority of the education attained for upskilling was accessed as part-time enrollments by working-class citizens. This education was obtained from either public 2-year colleges or private for-profit institutions (respectively 23.9% and 29.1% of total distance/online learning enrollments). The facts are further validated by a comparison of the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) historical data on employment and online education participation rates.table1

During the Great Recession of 2007-2010, the U.S. Department of Education reported an increase in the number and percentage of individuals enrolled in Distance Learning or Online Education Programs than in comparison to the prior reported years; See Table 1. The increase in distance learning and online education enrollments was observed to be in direct correlation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2009 Report on Mal-Employment Rates disseminated by industry type/major field of study; See Chart 1. That’s an interesting fact!Chart1

The point is, the impacts of COVID-19 have toppled labor-market stability. Workforce regions will need more than a Rapid Response Initiative to re-employ the 26.5 million Americans who have recently experienced a job loss. The charge to re-employ these persons is insurmountable, and now more than ever before access to quality online and hybrid education opportunities through leading education entities will be at the forefront of re-employment operations.

Alas, there is HOPE! But keep in mind that just as with the Great Recession, mal-employment will persist. And yet again, our point-of-access for upskilling into high-demand careers will evolve; this due to the increase in career professionals seeking engaging opportunities to complete single-course, short-certificate, or accelerated bachelor’s degree programs. Simply put, the HOPE is unlimited access to education and career skills development which invests in expansive career opportunities.

[A pause as I ponder that notion.]

…reminds me of “Education for the Masses”, a concept established from the labor market transformations that were experienced at the start of the 1900s. (Read resources by Goldin & Katz). That’s just it! I guess it’s true. History does have an interesting way of repeating itself…

Rise-and-Shine! A change in our experiences will ultimately change our attitudes and behaviors. This change will yield a different and transformative result for the workforce-ecosystem at-large (Read Change the Culture Change the Game, Connors & Smith). We have work to do but it’s not without compassion for the greater good of all humanity.

Fortified Learning Solutions. We create sustainable strategies at the precipice of Workforce Engagement.

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