COVID-19 and the job market of the future

The pandemic is accelerating the transition to a digital economy. New ways of working and shopping mean certain roles in data analysis and consumer behaviour, for example, will become more common.

The new decade will also require higher-skilled roles. LinkedIn and Microsoft have teamed up to offer online training for the roles they’ve identified that are in-demand in today’s economy and are well-positioned to continue to grow in the future.

These include software developers, digital marketing, graphic designers, IT admin and support, and customer service and sales specialists.

COVID-19 has made remote working a reality. Business executives will start to use videoconferencing more for communicating with each other. Many companies, like Twitter, have announced that they will allow their employees to work remotely indefinitely.

Leading research advisory firm Gartner have found 74 per cent of chief financial officers (CFOs) assume they will shift some of their employees to work remotely on a permanent basis.

These trends will transform the job market completely. Even a single job circular will call for a global competition. Recruiters will begin using online tests, telephone and video interviews increasingly for hiring employees.

Employers will also start to use technology more frequently for monitoring their employees. They will start to use virtual clocking and track the use of work computers more. Monitoring employee communications will also increase, while HR personnel will be expected to ensure the responsible use of the analytics and information gathered from this monitoring.


COVID-19 will also influence companies to reduce non-essential expenses. Greater demands will be created for financial experts to help companies sustain researchers and data analysts to predict the trends and assist making decisions based on data, and software developers and IT specialists to facilitate e-commerce and ensure digital transformation.

Supply chain systems will also use technology more. Global financial systems will be shaped by online transactions and payment processes. Having skills or knowledge on programming, artificial intelligence, data entry, and electronic document management will be indispensable. Without being comfortable with the tech tools, very few people will be able to continue working efficiently in the companies in the post-coronavirus world.

As the trend for remote working increases, the need for experienced freelancers will be enhanced. People will look for expert freelancers in their respective fields to boost efficiency and reduce overall business costs.

Health professionals will become significantly more valuable, and valued in the future job market. We might also see even more cross-border movement of expert health workers from their native countries in search of better opportunities.

The UK’s National Health Service is one of the largest employers in the world (with around 1.5 million members of staff), and the education and health service sector in the US employs more Americans than their manufacturing, construction, transport and utilities industries combined. The use of telemedicine will increase, and both the patients and clinicians will need to be adept in the technology allowing this long-distance provision of contact, advice and care.

However, other sectors won’t be able to adapt and thrive in the same way. For instance, workers in the leisure and hospitality industries are facing the most precarious long-term futures due to social distancing requirements and mandatory closures. It is the hardest-hit industry in the United States in the pandemic, and the loss of such jobs in New York alone is larger than the entire population of Wyoming. Jobs in this sector will be lost so alarmingly swiftly that people will be compelled to change their jobs and adopt new roles in different businesses.

The retail and manufacturing industry will suffer tremendously due to decline in new orders. Because of different types of restrictions, many factories and warehouses will not be able to open. The food and drink industry will also be severely impacted as out-of-home consumption gradually decreases.


At this unusual time for everyone, the job market will become difficult due to furloughs, redundancies, and unemployment. Although a long-term recovery in developed economies is probable, there is no scope for complacency.

Students approaching graduation and the younger generation should stay focused and keep their eyes wide open.

Thomas Edison famously said: ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.’

The serial inventor, whose research contributed to over 1,000 patents in his name, also famously ‘failed’ thousands of times over before being credited with inventing the automatic telegraph, carbon telephone transmitter and lightbulb.

The irony of success is that it is built upon failure – and learning from it.

New opportunities may seem harder to come by during the post-COVID recovery, but come they will, particularly to those who are ready and willing to grab them with both hands.

With a tougher, more competitive job market, developing new skills to become more adaptive, resilient and valuable will stand students in good stead to become better versions of themselves and fulfil their potential in a more uncertain world.

Put another way by Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, in the days after his 2008 election victory: ‘You never want a serious crisis to go to waste… when it’s an opportunity to do things that you had never considered, or that you didn’t think were possible.’

Source: ACCA Student Accountant – July 2020

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