Coping With Job Loss


Words: Paribha VASHIST

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major stain on our socio-economic fabric. It not only had a ravaging impact on our health and well-being, but also disrupted the functioning of the global economy. Millions lost their jobs and potential employment opportunities were, more or less, wiped out.

The vulnerable sections, including women, youth and the marginalised socio-economic groups, concentrated in the unorganised, informal sector were disproportionately hit. One reason being the lack of social safety net. Ironically, as the economy plummeted into a recession-like situation, the stock market witnessed a boom with corporates turning into cash cows. In this way, the pandemic also widened the gap between the rich and the poor, and heightened the income disparity. Naturally, such a disparity creates feelings of resentment among the deprived masses and renders the social structure fragile and prone to chaos.

Prioritise Mental Health

For those of us who lost our dear ones and a steady source of income to shield us against the pain, times have been particularly difficult, if not frustrating. Job loss, in itself, is emotionally taxing. When coupled with the pandemic-related stress, it just exceeds the toleration limit. Only our mental fortitude and calm can help us sail through this upsurge in hardships. Remember, it is just a phase — this too shall eventually pass. We need to cushion the blow by developing an optimistic attitude and the resilience to fight.

SWOT Analyse

‘Know thyself.’ We cannot confront a challenge unless we make a reasonable assessment of ourselves and our circumstances. By performing a SWOT analysis, that is, by understanding our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, we can brace ourselves in challenging times. A simple task of this kind will enable us to make well-informed decisions, suited to our environment.

Up Your Skill-Sets

The pandemic induced a major structural change in the economy, which, in turn, caused structural unemployment. Individuals and businesses that were able to reorganise their operations and ‘up’ their skills, were better able to position themselves in this adversity. Take, for instance, the case of a local vegetable vendor. The social distancing protocols and the pandemic-induced lockdowns adversely affected their sales as they were barely getting customers. But, people in their locality obviously did not stop consuming vegetables. What they were lacking was a means to connect with customers and deliver items. By learning the requisite technical skills, they were able to easily bridge this gap and continue to enjoy their pre-pandemic sales.

Thus, changing our skill-sets in accordance with the demands of the labour market becomes crucial. This could be in the form of learning new skills through online courses and YouTube videos, or partnering with organisations having well-established supply chains.

Green Jobs

There’s growing consciousness in the global community that the post-pandemic recovery should be ‘green’ and ‘sustainable.’ What this means is that a greater number of countries would be investing in clean technology and funding climate adaptation and mitigation projects, as can be witnessed in the on-going CoP26 [October 31-November 12, 2021]. As a result of such decarbonisation efforts, a multitude of ‘green jobs’ will emerge that did not exist before. Green jobs, as the International Labor Organisation [ILO] defines them, are “decent jobs that contribute to preserve or restore the environment, be they in traditional sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, or in new, emerging green sectors, such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.” In its report, World Employment and Social Outlook 2018, the ILO states that “changes in production and use of energy to achieve the 2°C target may lead to the creation of around 18 million jobs in the world economy.” Thus, the emerging ‘green’ opportunities are endless and there is no single training profile that suits all ‘green’ jobs. For instance, if you are a lawyer by profession, you might consider doing a specialisation in Environmental Law.

Here are other examples of green jobs:

  • Sustainability Supervisor: Focuses on integrating sustainability in daily operations
  • Solar Panel Installation Technician: Installs, maintains and repairs solar panels
  • Smart Network Manager: Manages IT networks with the aim of optimising the production and distribution of electricity.

If this area excites you then consider exploring it further. Your satisfaction would far exceed monetary gains, as you would now also be an active participant in environmental protection.

Support Women Power

The pandemic imposed an additional burden of unpaid care on women, including cooking, cleaning, taking care of children and the elderly. This added pressure of caregiving activities jeopardised women’s ability to stay in the workforce and progress. As a result, women are finding it hard to return to the pre-pandemic normal. In this scenario, it becomes important for all stakeholders to take bold, targeted action. By providing childcare assistance, both employers and the government can ease and smoothen women’s re-entry into the workforce. Reskilling programmes for women in keeping with the demand of the labour market can be beneficial too. We must, therefore, make the conscious effort to encourage and support women to regain their pre-pandemic financial independence.

These are clear possibilities; they can transform the process of appropriate, suitable and sustainable transition to this ‘new normal.’ The pandemic-related job loss, therefore, could just be yet another adversity, among others, that we can overcome with the right mind-set and our enhanced skills.

PARIBHA VASHIST is a first-year Bachelor of Economics student at Gargi College, University of Delhi, New Delhi. A voracious reader and a naturally gifted writer, Vashist is zealously passionate about international economics, environmental policy and sustainable development. She wishes to effectively disseminate, in her own simple, yet profound way, scientific knowledge and policy tools to bringing about a positive, healthy change in our increasingly madding world.

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