The JobKeeper wage subsidy is due to expire on 28 March, with warnings as many as 150,000 more Australians could be out of work by April.
Treasury secretary Dr Steven Kennedy told a Senate Estimates hearing on Wednesday that between 100,000 and 150,000 workers "may lose employment at the completion of the program".
"In our view it is appropriate for the program to end as other support measures take effect and to allow the economy to continue adjusting," he said.
“We are by no means pleased that there are businesses in difficult circumstances.”
Preparing for redundancy
While it’s never a good idea to be complacent about your job security, the end of JobKeeper has thrown this into extreme focus, said Alison Hernandez, managing director at career transition firm Randstad Risesmart Asia Pacific.
And that means that if you’re concerned you could be on your way out, there are some steps you need to begin to take now.
“There's been a catastrophic impact on jobs all around the world and also here in Australia over the last year and people are advised to get ahead of the curve,” Hernandez told Yahoo Finance.
“What I mean by that is, don’t wait for an event that impacts your job to start thinking about having an up-to-date resume, to be thinking about reskilling and upskilling for the future. When’s the last time you invested in your own employability and your own marketability as a candidate?
“Don’t wait until you’re displaced to start thinking about these things.”
Here’s what you need to do
Think about skills
Hernandez often sees people come through for support with old resumes and stagnant skills.
The first thing to do is whip your resume into shape and ensure it’s highlighting all of your current skills and capabilities. Then, begin investing in more skills.
The good news is that this is easier than it seems.
“There’s been a lot of generalisation in the discussion about reskilling and upskilling, and it all sounds very tricky and insurmountable, but the reality is, you know what you are good at and your strengths,” Hernandez said.
That means reskilling comes down to identifying your passions, your strengths and the areas you’d like to be better at.
“Whether that’s a trade or getting another certificate or licence in an area, or whether it’s actually enrolling in an online course to learn web development or digital marketing, it’s about thinking about the future.
“Have I got new, updated and current skills that are going to make me more employable versus the next person on the shortlist?”
There are many free courses online, Hernandez added, with COVID prompting many course providers to make some or all of their content free. “You’ve got Udemy and Coursera where there are thousands of courses.”
Hernandez’ 18 year old daughter did three free courses in 2020 in digital marketing and social media.
“Now she has a certificate and content on her resume. It all adds to her employability, versus someone who has nothing to show.”
Take up and seek out support
The second step is to accept help.
“Take the support that you’re offered. One in five people that are offered company-sponsored programs decide not to take it up,” Hernandez said.
“I think that is really interesting – whether they just don’t understand it, whether the employer hasn’t presented it well enough with them and they’re not sure about the benefits.”
Hernandez said that as managing director at Randstad Risesmart, this statistic in particular worries her.
“We don’t want to leave anyone behind,” she said.
“Eighty-two per cent of people that take [the Risesmart support] up are landing a job – in a COVID year – in nine months.”
The lesson is that if you are impacted in a job, to seek support.
“Hopefully it will be company-sponsored. Take it up, grab it with both hands, because that can be really life changing.”
Support services will help workers hold a mirror to themselves and identify their key competencies and seek out new pathways.
And Hernandez said she often hears of people who have been made redundant and within three months land their dream role in a completely different industry or with a different skill set, due to that external perspective.
Leverage your professional and personal network
The next step is to think about the people you know and how they can help you find your next gig.
This could mean joining a professional association, heading to networking events and joining in on webinars and sending follow-up messages to panellists and other guests following the events.
But if that sounds daunting, Hernandez said networking isn’t just about connecting with those in your industry. It’s also about reaching out to friends and family.
“Networking is not walking into a room full of strangers. First of all, I would say to people to challenge your own misconceptions about networking,” she said.
“Networking is just about conversations. It’s just about reaching out, connecting with people and having a conversation. Finding people who may know people, who may work in a company, who may know a recruiter, who may be married to someone who’s looking for some talent in that organisation.”
Hernandez remembers meeting a neighbour at a street Christmas party who was looking for work as a career coach.
“He’d moved up from Sydney and found it really hard to get back to doing what he loves. Now he’s working for us as a coach,” she said.
They had met up for a coffee a few weeks later and she discovered he had all the skills they were looking for.
“Who would have thought that if he hadn’t gone to that street party in the lead up to Christmas, and if we hadn’t struck up a conversation… he [wouldn’t] have connected with me.”