Thursday, April 15, 2021

COVID 19 - School Leavers and the Workforce


Every year, there's a question that rears up within the work force? Can these new school leavers do the job? Questions seem to crop up, not so much over the academic achievements, but over the competency to fulfill the requirements of the job role. Despite the presence of the pandemic, we must be aware that the next few years will surely be different as it relates to recruitment and the job market. Will job hunting be tough as always? Yes, but this time it will be on steroids. 

Academia Vs Competency

In many instances, educational institutions rarely have had the opportunity to prepare school leavers for the world of work. With the pandemic last year and a great deal of this year, coupled with volcanic eruptions affecting the region, education has been disrupted quite badly. Given these instances, they are situations where people are not coping well with remote schooling. There are still some elements of the curricula that require physical teaching methods which are not easily replicated in the virtual world; especially when students don't have the foundation experiences to draw upon for a full appreciation of the information being conveyed. 

Inabilities to communicate effectively

Have we recognized that, with all the methods of communicating, that actual communication is at an all time low. It is a skill that is actually suffering quite significantly. Even people within the same household can't seem to get along since they may be of different generations and interact differently. We have developed a displaced approach to culture, whereby we think that speaking in dialect is common place for every situation. We are now failing to recognize that there is a time and place for everything; including verbal, written and other forms of communication. 

There seems to be a lack of respect for others and it is growing. People seem to believe that since they are qualified they can interact with others as they like and the rest of the world must conform to their standards. 

There will be a requirement that organizations address their standards in the early so that those serving the company in varying capacities know how to interact. 

Employment opportunities and the job seeker

In short form, it is going to be tougher to get a job. Why? Well, everyone felt the impact of the global shut down due to the pandemic. It came in waves causing people and organizations to have to endure multiple shutdowns impacting income in a negative way in most instances. 

Currently, school leavers of all ages are not being adequately prepared for the world of work. The emphasis is on education in a very academic sense and competency is taking a blow depending on how those programs are being executed. 

Another consideration is that job seekers will now have even more limited work experience and try to embark on businesses which if they don't receive technical assistance to guide them will result in massive failures among start up enterprises and SMEs. The work ethic which usually develops from applied learning will suffer since the metrics for ensuring discipline are not able to be readily enforced due to the remoteness of the current educational environment. This results in limited checks and balances that provide feedback to the student as to how to translate their education in to practical settings required for the world of work. 

Training systems in a disoriented and displaced workforce

To become/remain competitive businesses are going to need to invest in the training of their human resources. Prior to, but especially during COVID-19 the methodologies of training have evolved. We have gone from beginning to embrace online to being predominantly online; with many not becoming used to the virtual world despite the best of efforts. 

Despite the best of preparation, we have the instability of the internet through the service providers which serve to increase levels of stress due to the uncertainty. At times there can be challenges with the competence using the technology on the part of the presenter/student (participant). 

Conference call clashes seems to be the order of the day which in many cases may also result in work/study stays being extremely long. Remote workers and students can become faced with fatigue of being in front of the computer or being sedentary for too long. Presenter skills have to be en-pointe to hold the attention of the participants to the various programs. 

Employment and employees - Who's ready?

The environment we are currently facing is one that is unprecedented. Yes, we have faced challenges before as countries within the Caribbean. However, in this instance they are not spaced out as in the past and all of these environmental challenges have a multi-pronged impact on its residents. What is meant by this? 

  1. COVID-19 Pandemic
  2. The volcanic ash flow
  3. The hurricane season
  4. The rainy season
Additionally, there is the issue of man-made challenges through the instance of disposal practices especially as it pertains to modern conveniences. 

Are we prepared? No one was/is! There is a need to innovate, to pivot, to revise and revamp. To create this system of what I'll term "neuvo-employment". 

We have to identify how we can harness the imaginations of the youth and the experiences of those who are older. 

Fine tuning competition with existing workforce

Make no mistake about it, we can decide if we are going to compete or if we are going to innovate. Attention has to be given as to how we will be sustainable in this environment. How can we ensure that the necessary resources are accessible. 

Leadership is key in this environment. Fortunately for Barbados, our government and in particular our current Prime Minister Mia Mottley has to capacity to communicate at levels that no one is left out. I would use this opportunity to say thank you to our government for their practical measures in helping us to ride these waves of uncertainty. 

It should be noted that in this current and future environment there will be a requirement for teams to work collaboratively with experience harnessing innovation. We have some insights as to how this can be done and will share more in the near future. Keep locked in to your media channels. 

You may also keep updated on our website about various business topics and discussions at 

The impact on the workforce is real, but not insurmountable. You must however have a plan. 

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