The workforce disruption and pending economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are causing daily uncertainties that will stretch well into the coming years. The acceleration of automation and need for digital solutions, even for basic day-to-day chores, are undermining trust in what people knew and were familiar with.
Something is certain though: local economies found resources from within and rose to the challenges they were facing in the first quarter of this year. So far, a combination of actions, inherited social traits and workforce resilience has helped countries from Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa to successfully manage the crisis. This year-end edition of Inovantage lays in front of us, like a deconstructed DNA sample, those traits that define the region’s workforce landscape.
Adecco’s report aims to clarify:
1) what pre-pandemic conditions eased each country’s efforts in fighting the crisis and what accelerated their failings; and
2) what key learnings public and private stakeholders can learn and apply in the following years.
The report analyses global trends in workforce development and participation, but it focuses on the Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa regions (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
Report’s key findings, with the courtesy of Cristian-Andrei Panțir, Executive Editor Inovantage:
1. The best prepared countries to tackle workforce challenges are the ones with good social mobility and widespread vocational and technical skills. Gender parity, ethnic minority integration and workforce inclusiveness play a key role in assuring work transitions in challenging times.
2. Enhanced ICT infrastructure and digital skills are fundamental to tackle any future disruptions in labour markets. Countries with both public and private digital infrastructures and a tech-savvy workforce had better results in managing the disruptions caused by initial lockdowns.
3. Government social measures and relatively lower interdependency with the globalised economy helped Eastern European countries bounce back easier. The local political responses towards labour markets were initially timid and poorly communicated. Most countries announced more support measures after the Cohesion Policy Response to the Covid-19 crisis was released by the EU.
4. The future of work in EEMENA belongs to an ever-learning and digitally skilled workforce. With a vigorous but ageing population, countries in the region must offer more growth opportunities and up-to-date lifelong learning experiences to upskill their citizens.
Forecasts for the new normality
A key element that will forever change the work environment is the rapid adoption of remote working, particularly as work productivity wasn’t affected and, indeed, grew in some sectors.
Raw estimates show that half of the active workforce can practise their work remotely. Companies are expected to invest in shaping up new organisational cultures and tackle the wellbeing issues posed by the shift to remote work. As the pandemic lingers through winter, managers are reporting that employees show signs of depression and fatigue. As depicted in previous sections, countries in EEMENA are not exempt from these future employment trends. Immediate job transitions (the next 6 months).
As important as remote working is, it does not solve the challenges for all sectors – a large part of the workforce will face displacements and layoffs.
The mix between the pandemic and the ongoing automation process increases the pressure on education, manufacturing, logistics, hospitality and entertainment jobs. This is starting to impact the most displaceable work categories, namely older workers and young people. The timing of this could not be worse, with youth unemployment in the region already high. Countries like Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Tunisia and Romania have unemployment rates above the European average. There are jobs in the affected sectors of the economy that can transition easily to sectors with high demand and that young people can access easily (Figure 9). For instance: a young restaurant office assistant who lost their job could fill a position as a sales associate in a bank; a cleaner at a hotel could transition to a private hospital for a registered orderly job.
The list could go on but, despite the grim work perspectives, hiring opportunities arise from sectors that have been stressed by the pandemic (such as the healthcare sector) or that have not been heavily impacted by it (such as information technology and services).
Shifting job demand in 2021
For some time now we have been witnessing an accelerated change in economies, industries and even in the way business is conducted. Impacted by the pandemic, aviation or tourism businesses, for example, are shrinking while others, such as the digital economy or healthcare, are expanding. Businesses are reshaping strategies, are investing in automation and are exploring new work methodologies. Employees, however, are more pessimistic about their job security and need to pick up new skills, now more than ever (Future of Work post-Covid, 2020).
2021 will not bring fundamental changes in the trends of high demand and increasingly redundant jobs. Across the region there will be an accelerated need for highly specialised personnel in:
- AI and machine learning
- Big data Internet of things S
- Social media
- Material engineering
On the other hand, jobs that involve repetitive actions and crowded places for human interaction will continue to be increasingly redundant. Next year will mean lesser interest for employing personnel in:
- Manual data entry
- Financial analysis
- Manufacturing and production
- Accounting and auditing
- Office management
Skills to be nurtured (the next 5 years). During 2020 the Adecco Group conducted a survey that aims to find out more about workforce transformation. Future of Work post-Covid: Bridging divides for shared prosperity 2020 sheds light on a series of aspects that are defining the way work relationships, perceptions and practises are starting to look like. Among the surveyed population there are differences in perception of the skills that will be in high demand in the next five years .
Business leaders put emphasis on
- data analytics and data science,
- resilience, stress tolerance and
On the other hand, workers consider
- AI and machine learning,
- digital marketing and
- time management to be more in demand in the near future.
The full report here: INOVANTAGE.-Reading-the-workforce-DNA-of-Eastern-Europe-and-MENA.pdf (adecco.ro)