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Why Covid-19 may force a shocking career change

(Source: Getty)
(Source: Getty)

Where did we get this idea that having a job was the be-all and end-all?

There is actually something more important than just having a job: having the job you want, or at the very least the job you’re most qualified to do.

The jobs market is where most Australians are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Late last week we learned that as restrictions eased in June and the economy began opening up, roughly 250,000 jobs were created.

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There was so much optimism that more Australians actually began the search for work, when previously they had just assumed it wasn’t possible – so didn’t look and were therefore not part of the statistics.

Of course with more workers looking, and not finding anything, the unemployment rate rose from 7.1 per cent to 7.4 per cent.

Here’s the sting though: economists say the real or “effective” rate of unemployment is probably more like 11 – 13 per cent.

That’s because the official jobless rate doesn’t include those on JobKeeper and who still aren’t looking for work.

There’s another uncomfortable truth. All, that’s right, all of the jobs created in June – when the economy had supposedly turned a corner, were part-time.

The majority of these folks are women and younger Australians who are breathing a sigh of relief they’re back in a paid gig, however, for many, it’s more underemployment, work dissatisfaction and stress.

Far from ideal

So that’s kind of the big pig picture and the numbers.

Do you see where I’m going with this? As the economy opened up in June, there was hope livelihoods might improve.

As the coronavirus outbreak began unfolding in Victoria, those hopes in some, not all, cases have been dashed.

But in addition, the figures also show even when the economy was re-opening, it was far from ideal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison quite rightly points out that this is to be expected.

Let’s though, at the very least, shine a light on what many in the community are dealing with regardless.

‘Career jolt’

I’d like to tell you about a man who has needed to completely change his working life in order to pay the bills.

To protect his privacy I’m going to change is name to Matt Story. I also won’t tell you what job he lost either. Neither is important.

For many years Matt has been a successful chef. When COVID-19 hit, and people stopped coming to his restaurant, he found himself out of a job.

The problem with this recession is that those out of work have found it extremely difficult to find new employment. Last month no full-time jobs were created.

But Matt couldn’t find more work as a chef, but he still had bills to pay and a family to feed.

Desperate, he decided to buy a rodent-catching franchise.

If you’d told Matt mid-way through last year he would be running a rodent-catching business he’d have laughed at you, and been slightly shocked.

The reasons behind this change though are clear enough: he had the money to buy the franchise, and, in these times, there’s still strong demand for such services.

It’s actually a smart move, if extremely unpleasant.

So many Australians, right now, are needing to make big changes like this to stay afloat.

Three phases to this recovery

There will be three phases to any recovery.

The first will see the creation of mostly part-time jobs as restrictions ease. The second will see more people moving out of the unemployment queues as the economy expands and into jobs that are in demand.

Last week the government announced the new JobTrainer program. It’s throwing billions at the education, skills and training sector to make sure that when these jobs become available, workers are ready to fill them.

The third phase will see the economy moving up a couple of gears when people start looking for jobs they’re not only trained and qualified to fill, but it’s work they’re actually passionate about and want to do.

Economic utopia is still way into the distance

The Victorian coronavirus outbreak is heart-breaking because it further pushes out the economic utopia that we’d love to see.

That’s the downside.

It’s my sincere hope though that this economic crisis will remind everyone that achieving real, sustainable, world-class economic growth is not just about creating jobs.

That’s vital, of course. Where you achieve great economic success though is when workers are passionate about what they do and find meaning in their work.

Australia had this problem prior to coronavirus. Is it too much to hope that the coronavirus recession, while painful, can re-set the economy, and open-up minds to what could-be?

A job is just a job, but it has the potential to be a heck of a lot more than that.

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