2021 Jobs Report

Finding New Footing: Uncertainty abounds, but opportunities are still out there

2021 JOBS REPORT

BY A. WILKINSON

ILLUSTRATION BY KOTRYNA ZUKAUSKAITE

img
img

LEWISTSEPUILUNG/ISTOCK EDITORIAL/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

—A commuter rail station in Hong Kong

One year after COVID-19 first reared its head, career repercussions are still rippling around the globe—and unemployment or underemployment remain pervasive.

Working hours dipped 17.3 percent, or the equivalent of 495 million full-time positions, in the second quarter of 2020, compared with 2019, according to a September analysis by the International Labour Organization. Some regions are clawing back: Asia Pacific, for instance, saw a second-quarter jobs loss of 15.2 percent, compared with 28 percent (equal to 105 million full-time jobs) across North America and Latin America.

Still, project professionals needn’t despair. While some industries and organizations are certainly struggling, others are abuzz with pandemic-driven activity—from rebalancing portfolios to launching major projects related to health, logistics, online education and retail. In ManpowerGroup’s global survey, hiring prospects improved in 37 countries in the last few months of 2020, and weakened in only five.

And the C-suite is notably bullish about what lies ahead: More than two-thirds (67 percent) of CEOs surveyed in mid-2020 say they’re more confident about their company’s growth prospects over the next three years than they had been at the start of 2020, according to KPMG’s annual CEO survey. What does keep them up at night? Finding the right talent. In 2019, talent risk ranked near the very bottom of CEOs’ concerns, with just 2 percent considering it their company’s greatest threat. By mid-2020, talent topped the risk list for 21 percent of CEOs, earning it the top spot overall.

In the face of virus-fueled fatigue and uncertainty, executive confidence about the future and fear about talent is a silver lining for project professionals looking to supercharge their careers in 2021. Here’s how project leaders can best seek out opportunities in regions across the world.

imgMiddle East

The Outlook: The impact of COVID-19 has been exacerbated by the collapse in the price of oil, wreaking financial havoc across the region. This instability has worsened the gap between the richest and the poorest in the area, already one of the most unequal regions in the world, according to Oxfam International.

Countries without a comprehensive social welfare system, such as Syria, have fared worse, as have poorer countries in which people can’t work from home and may not have the bank accounts necessary to participate in e-commerce. This doesn’t bode well for the near future. Predicting oil prices will remain depressed, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the Middle Eastern and Central Asian economy will contract by 4.1 percent in 2021.

Even across wealthier countries, “there is still a high level of uncertainty when it comes to what would happen next or when this will end,” says Wafi Mohtaseb, head of applications support, Kuwait Finance House, Kuwait City, Kuwait. “The job market is unstable, and many layoffs happened mainly in the retail, airlines and tourism sectors.”

The Opportunity: Lingering COVID-19 risks and anemic demand for oil increases the need for the region to diversify its economy—a widespread goal that’s only going to move from dream to reality with the right portfolio of projects.

When it comes to forecasting new areas of economic growth, “the pandemic raises the importance of innovation and R&D,” says Nahlah Alyamani, PMI-RMP, PMP, PgMP, planning lead for the Eastern hub, Health Holding Co., Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Like the region itself, a return to normal shouldn’t be the goal for most organizations. Instead, they should and are trying to lean into new technologies, revamping standard processes and rethinking business as usual. She’s noticed that the pandemic has “also promoted the agile concept and showed the importance of adapting to any situation.”

img

—Nahlah Alyamani, PMI-RMP, PMP, PgMP, Health Holding Company, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

img

PHOTO BY FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

—The Global AI Summit 2020 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

An Age-Old Problem

The Middle East and North Africa is awash in young workers, with 60 percent of the population under age 30. But even before COVID, it’s struggled with a long-entrenched unemployment problem for younger workers, according to the Brookings Institution. The pandemic has done nothing to help the issue. In 2020, more than 26 percent of young workers were unemployed, according to the World Bank. And workers under 25 are three times as likely to be unemployed as other adults.

The odds may be against young project professionals looking to land a first job, but the right tactics can help them navigate the obstacles. In an October analysis, the World Economic Forum recommended three achievable steps to boost employment odds right now: gain proficiency in the English language, have digital know-how, and look for opportunities to practice people skills, such as productive conflict resolution and emotional intelligence with teams.

Edraak, a regional platform for massive open online courses, recently partnered with Crescent Petroleum on a project to develop a series of open and free online career readiness courses. The team hopes to eventually reach (and boost the employability skills of) 500,000 young workers across the Middle East.

img

PHOTO BY LOUAI BESHARA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

—Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, Syria

img

PHOTO BY JOEL CARILLET/ISTOCK UNRELEASED

—Subway station in New York, New York, USA

imgUnited States

The Outlook: The United States logged the worst economic contraction in its history during the second quarter of 2020, as non-farm payrolls—which account for 80 percent of workers in the economy—dropped by nearly 21 million in April. But by the end of the year, the data was hinting at hope: Hiring during October outpaced September by 15.5 percent, according to LinkedIn’s November Workforce Report. That’s still 5.8 percent lower than October 2019 but reason to celebrate for those on the job market.

But the road ahead for the U.S. job market is murky. “Without adequate fiscal stimulus and safety from the virus, employers and consumers will be unable to move forward, and so the recession will deepen,” says Erica Groshen, PhD, senior economic adviser, Cornell University, New York, New York, USA.

img

—Erica Groshen, PhD, Cornell University, New York, New York, USA

Job opportunities are hardest to find in industries such as recreation and travel (down 41 percent in October compared with the year prior, according to LinkedIn), the arts (down 32 percent), energy and mining (down 32 percent), legal (down 18 percent), hardware and networking (down 14 percent) and entertainment (down 13 percent).

“But as the pandemic persists, we’re beginning to see layoffs occur outside these industries,” says John Challenger, CEO of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Expansion plans have widely been abandoned until companies can emerge from the fog of uncertainty and more clearly define the long-term structural changes that will occur as a result of the pandemic, Groshen says. Companies will hoard cash and delay investment in R&D and capital improvement projects until they can regain certainty around the competitive landscape and consumer behavior.

The Opportunity: Manufacturing, transportation and logistics, construction, retail and real estate have seen the biggest recovery in open positions since hitting lows in April 2020, according to LinkedIn. And while brick-and-mortar retail may be floundering, companies that sell goods and services are strengthening their online infrastructure and offerings in response to the mass shift in consumer behavior, says Challenger. Those organizations will need digital-savvy project talent to push forward.

Project activity—and a need for project managers—extends beyond those fields. When the pandemic first hit, industries that could transition to remote work—largely white-collar professional jobs—immediately implemented work-from-home policies that became long-term for many. By midyear, three-fourths of professional workers, including project managers, were still working remotely, says Challenger.

While CEOs in North America are the least likely to view low-density workplaces as a lasting change (as much as 20 percentage points less than CEOs in Latin America, for instance), nearly half believe the trend will be permanent, according to PwC. For this year, the abrupt but enduring acceptance of digital collaboration tools and remote work will continue, predicts McKinsey, which means a serious appetite for project leaders to effectively steer everything from the development of analytical tools to change initiatives around dispersed teams.

img

PHOTO BY ERGIN YALCIN/E+/GETTY IMAGES

United States:
Geotargeting

Location matters—not only in how many positions are available, but also what sectors they’re in. Of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, Rochester, New York won the top slot for job outlook, according to ManpowerGroup, with 29 percent of organizations signaling they intended to expand headcount in the last three months of 2020. At the other end of the list, Los Angeles, California; New Haven, Connecticut; and Miami, Florida all fell below zero for overall hiring intention. Here are the sectors with the sharpest seasonally adjusted uptick in hiring intention by U.S. region.

img
img

PHOTO BY LIANG SEN/XINHUA VIA GETTY IMAGES

—Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

imgCanada:

Proactive Edge

Compared to its southern neighbor, Canada has been applauded for better containing the virus and for a more aggressive federal stimulus—which have teed the country up for a faster jobs recovery. Still, the pandemic is impacting paychecks: A Conference Board of Canada survey found that the average pay increase for non-union employees will be just 2.1 percent this year.

img

PHOTO BY RANIMIRO LOTUFO NETO/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

—São Paulo, Brazil

imgLatin America

The Outlook: One of the last regions to be hit by the pandemic is likely to also be one of the last to exit, according to S&P Global. Latin America has been dealt a particularly harsh blow, as Brazil suffered the highest death toll worldwide by year’s end after the United States. The pandemic will exacerbate already extreme income inequality throughout the region and could push an estimated 45 million additional residents into poverty by the end of 2020, according to a July United Nations report.

Women and younger workers are most likely to feel the blowback of the largest job contraction in the region in 100 years, according to the U.N.’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the International Labour Organization. Their report reveals there are fewer entry-level jobs to be had, as well as fewer hires made following probationary periods and fewer temporary contract renewals.

Notably, though, the COVID-19 toll has varied widely across Latin American countries. Project finance operations across Latin America totaled just US$6.4 billion in the first half of 2020, a drop of roughly 80 percent from the year before, according to an analysis by BNamericas. But nearly US$4 billion of that project financing, for instance, originated in Brazil alone. And certain areas may bounce back more quickly. S&P predicts that Chile will return to 5.5 percent growth in 2021, thanks to a large fiscal stimulus package and rebounding Chinese demand for metals. Similarly, the agency expects Peru will bounce back quickly, growing 10.5 percent in 2021 for the same reasons.

The Opportunity: Across the region, project managers and other white-collar professionals in technology-enabled roles continue to work from home, as companies rethink the necessity of maintaining traditional office environments, says Gustavo Pastrana, PMP, senior manager in global banking software, Diebold Nixdorf, Mexico City, Mexico. A proven track record with managing virtual teams, leading digital transformations or change management can all set candidates apart in an otherwise crowded talent pool.

Still, COVID-19 has prompted widespread belt-tightening. And project managers who freelance or work with companies through outside firms may find the market meager in the year ahead. “Professional service firms experienced layoffs because customers who usually reach for these services are limiting their budgets to survive,” Pastrana says.

img

—Gustavo Pastrana, PMP, Diebold Nixdorf, Mexico City, Mexico

But companies can’t thrive just by tightening their belts. To return to form, some organizations are strategically investing in digital transformations even as they trim all fat from their operational costs, says Nelson José Rosamilha, head of project management, Ericsson, São Paulo, Brazil. “They’ll collect those benefits next year,” he says.

Triple Spotlight

img

BRAZIL
BIGGER AND BETTER
Hiring intentions climbed 11 percentage points in the final months of 2020, compared to the third quarter— with the strongest uptick in finance, insurance and real estate. But that still leaves the overall job outlook at negative 3 percent, according to ManpowerGroup. Larger orgs remain more likely to hire, the survey shows. In November, Amazon completed its biggest expansion yet into Brazil, a project that created three new massive distribution centers in the country.

img

ARGENTINA
BANKING ON FINTECH
Nearly half of Latin Americans lack bank accounts, and fintech firms are racing to fill the void. The region’s mobile payment market is forecast to hit US$303 billion by 2025, up from US$50 billion in 2016, according to market firm PayNXT360. And Argentina is at the center of the burgeoning fintech scene, with the largest player, MercadoLibre, calling Buenos Aires home. Transactions on the platform more than doubled in the second quarter of 2020, according to Reuters, and executives have signaled continued expansion ahead.

img

PERU
SKILLS UPSWING
Peru is a global standout when it comes to employees feeling like they can learn skills on the job that will help future-proof their careers. Eighty-four percent of Peruvians felt at least somewhat confident about opportunities for skills development, according to an October report by the World Economic Forum. That’s compared with 67 percent confidence globally and makes Peru second only to Spain (at 86 percent).

img

PHOTO BY STELLALEVI/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES PLUS

—Buenos Aires, Argentina

img

PHOTO BY RECEP SAKAR/ANADOLU AGENCY VIA GETTY IMAGES

—Melbourne, Australia

imgAsia Pacific

The Outlook: Across Vietnam, Singapore and much of East Asia, the death toll from COVID-19 remained consistently lower than that of Western countries. Despite a proactive response, retail, hospitality and tourism were decimated by the near-total collapse of global travel and will remain depressed through 2021. Projects related to science, technology and healthcare, meanwhile, are going strong, says Alice Chow, director of advisory services in East Asia for construction engineering giant Arup, Hong Kong, China. Project managers with experience in those sectors will have an easier time finding a new position than those in contracting sectors or new to the job market.

The Opportunity: Project-focused organizations are “looking for more added-value type of services” in the future, including strategic advice regarding industry trends and business drivers, Chow says. “Capabilities of a typical project manager, such as cost-saving, are not enough. One must get ready to be a project master, not only a project manager.”

img

—Alice Chow, Arup, Hong Kong

Business acumen, strategic chops, industry know-how and trendspotting can all make an applicant stand out from the crowd, and it’s important to showcase those value-add skills during the application process.

Australia: Upside Down Under

In Australia, one of the world’s strongest government stimulus responses to the pandemic—worth AU$259 billion, or more than 13 percent of the country’s GDP, by mid-2020—cushioned the career blow that project leaders might have felt elsewhere. The government has now turned its attention to efforts to speed employment recovery, including providing up to AU$200 a week to firms that hire young workers impacted by the COVID-19 recession.

This response has resulted in a large increase in project management opportunities across the government sector as well as national defense, education and health services, says Peter Moutsatsos, PMP, chief project officer, Telstra, Melbourne, Australia. “Many project professionals have also found new roles in the logistics/supply chain, biomedical and biotechnical, telecommunications, mining, financial technology and online retail industries,” helping these firms adjust to rapidly changing consumer behavior. However, the stimulus measures are currently scheduled to end around March 2021.

“As conditions settle, confidence to invest returns and clarity on government stimulus becomes clearer,” Moutsatsos says. “Then we expect to see a very large number of pandemic-related projects across sectors enter the pipeline quite quickly.”

img

—Peter Moutsatsos, Telstra, Melbourne, Australia

From the Top

In the post-pandemic economy, executives don’t expect business—or the future of work—to bounce back to business as usual.

img

Source: CEO Panel Survey: How Business Can Emerge Stronger, PwC, 2020

Go for Growth

One might expect C-suite confidence to tank in the face of a global pandemic—but the opposite holds true.

img

Source: KPMG (Survey conducted in January/February 2020, and again in July/August 2020)

img

PHOTO BY LI LONG/VCG VIA GETTY IMAGES

—Construction at a wind farm in China’s Anhui Province

imgChina

The Outlook: The world’s second-largest economy is the only major economy predicted to have grown in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, as much of the country contained the spread of the virus through extreme lockdowns and returned to normal activity relatively quickly. China’s economy is expected to expand 1.9 percent in 2020 and a whopping 8.2 percent in 2021.

Despite this optimism, a continuing atmosphere of populism, nationalism and protectionism may isolate China and limit its trade and growth, according to PIMCO’s Global Advisory Board. In the long term, that could somewhat slow the acceleration of organizational portfolios. Another question mark exists around the government’s implementation of a new “dual circulation” economic model. The change seeks to reduce the economy’s reliance on exports and foreign technology while strengthening its own supply chains and turning the domestic market into the country’s main growth driver.

The Opportunity: “So far, China’s job market as a whole has basically returned to normal,” says Frank Fu, PMP, founder and chairman of Shanghai Changeway Management Consulting Co., Shanghai, China. Cities from Wuhan (where COVID-19 was first reported) to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have brought workers back to offices with strict masking policies, body temperature checks and QR-code verification to track location via smartphones for contact-tracing purposes.

Project managers looking for new opportunities would be wise to target industries like medical supplies and testing equipment, which have skyrocketed in response to COVID-19 and will continue strong growth in 2021. Insurance, telecommuting and online education also show promise, Fu says. “In particular, the pandemic has forced enterprises to increase their investment in product R&D, which creates new opportunities for project professionals.”

img

—Frank Fu, PMP, Shanghai Changeway Management Consulting Co., Shanghai, China

Some sectors, though, are in a hiring rut, including consumer goods and manufacturing, according to an October report by the Center for China and Globalization and LinkedIn China. And, across the board, newer project managers may have a harder time landing that first job. The report found that recent graduates are struggling compared with last year’s graduates. Still, those who study abroad then return to China for work seem to be having an easier time getting hired, with Huawei, Tencent and Microsoft being the top three choices.

Sector Standouts

img

CONSTRUCTION
China’s government leaders fast-tracked major infrastructure projects during the pandemic to help offset the economic impact of COVID-19, with 89 percent resumed as of mid-March 2020. The move is good news for project managers with construction experience. The sector is predicted to grow 4.7 percent annually between 2021 and 2024. And government-backed think tank China Electronic Information Industry Development expects China to spend CNY10 trillion on new infrastructure projects between 2020 and 2025.

img

FINANCE
Any way the data is sliced— compared with mid-2020 numbers, stacked against prepandemic figures, or laid next to other sectors—hiring intentions are strong in finance, insurance and real estate. ManpowerGroup projects a hiring plan increase of 6 percentage points over the previous year.

img

CLOUD AND DATA CENTERS
China is the world’s second largest market in cloud computing, and it stores roughly one-fifth of the world’s data, according to the Brookings Institution. The pandemic has both encouraged e-commerce over brick-and-mortar retail sales and pushed more teams to work remotely, both of which call for more cloud computing and data storage. That puts even more demand on creating and maintaining those services—and hiring the workers to get it done.

img

PHOTO BY MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

—A volunteer with a government program uses a mobile phone to pay for medicines to deliver to elderly and physically challenged residents.

imgIndia

The Outlook: While pandemic-related challenges such as shelter-in-place orders spiked India’s unemployment rate to a record high of 27 percent in May 2020, experts predict a strong recovery in 2021 as the country’s growing digital economy bolsters job opportunities. The IMF expects India’s economic expansion to hit 8.8 percent this year.

The pandemic hit just years after the government launched an ambitious digital transformation plan, aimed at giving every adult an identity number that can be linked to a mobile phone number to allow cashless online transactions. By 2020, this plan had resulted in ambitious efforts by retailers to expand digital and omnichannel infrastructure and services.

In fact, digital transformation is blanketing all corners of India, with McKinsey crowning it the second-fastest digitizing economy in the world and estimating that digital applications could support 65 million jobs by 2025. And that sense of boundless opportunities seems widespread. India ranked highest in LinkedIn’s global Opportunity Index, which charts job candidates’ perceptions of the job market and their career prospects.

The Opportunity: Prompted by mass consumer behavior change following the pandemic, online retail and last-mile delivery services will see an ongoing spike in 2021. Insurance and healthcare will also maintain organic growth in demand.

“IT service sectors have quickly innovated to offer services related to monitoring and social distancing, while all industries have started to lean into innovation and research to address concerns related to the new norm of living with the pandemic,” says Duraideivamani Sankararajan, a customer engagement and delivery excellence leader with IBM in Bengaluru.

img

—Duraideivamani Sankararajan, IBM, Bengaluru, India

Still, the devastation wrought by COVID-19 will leave lasting pain. Despite the government’s effort to formalize the economy, “informal jobs, which still employ a good majority of India’s population, were affected, as public transport infrastructure and construction came to an immediate standstill,” says Vidhya Abhijith, co-founder, Codewave Technologies, Bengaluru.

This employment uncertainty and financial anxiety has reduced domestic demand among consumers for discretionary goods, which in turn delays corporate investment in capital projects and hiring, creating a downward spiral of low demand and supply, according to Deloitte Insights.

In response to this spiral, large organizations remain wary. In late summer 2020, Accenture made headlines with plans to lay off 25,000 employees, including thousands in India. At the same time, smaller, more nimble organizations are well-positioned.

“This is a period of radical change for businesses as new definitions of work, agility and project management emerge,” Abhijith says. “Organizations are embracing a future work environment that looks like a thriving social network, with smaller groups of people connected online and moving ideas into reality.”

The Search Starts Here

Though these positions may be relatively niche, they’re the fastest-growing job openings in India, expected to dramatically increase in 2021 and beyond, according to an analysis by LinkedIn.

  1. Blockchain developer
  2. AI specialist
  3. JavaScript developer
  4. Robotic process automation consultant
  5. Back-end developer
  6. Growth manager
  7. Site reliability engineer
  8. Customer success specialist
  9. Full stack engineer
  10. Robotics engineer

Action and Reward

LEADERS OF THE PACK
The world’s 10 largest economies, based on GDP projections in late 2020 (in U.S. trillions of dollars)

img

Sources: International Monetary Fund; Earning Power: Project Management Salary Survey, 11th edition, PMI, 2020

img

PHOTO BY THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

—Workers at a Porsche production plant in Stuttgart, Germany

imgEurope

The Outlook: By September, hiring rates were nearly on par with pre-pandemic hiring in the Netherlands, Italy and Ireland, according to LinkedIn. And in France, hiring had exceeded levels prior to March. Yet a second wave of COVID-19 cases hit Europe hard at the tail end of 2020, prompting another wave of restrictions and extinguishing hope for a prompt return to job market normalcy and economic strength.

Like other regions, Europe’s economic pain varied, as advanced Western European nations fared better than many neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe. According to a survey published in late 2020 by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Ifo Institute, 73 percent of respondents in EBRD regions say they were personally affected by the COVID-19 crisis, compared with 41 percent in advanced Europe, where governments doled out more generous stimulus packages.

Even wealthy European countries, however, are far from immune to repercussions. In Britain, the combination of the pandemic and a failure to secure a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union could cost the United Kingdom US$174 billion each year in lost GDP for a decade, according to research by law firm Baker McKenzie. And that economic burden is expected to trickle down into job cuts and curtailed opportunities.

The Opportunity: Automation and migration were impacting the career landscape even before COVID-19 hit, but the pandemic has only accelerated that trend. Jobs in knowledge-intensive sectors, such as financial services and telecommunications, had seen steady growth, particularly in what McKinsey researchers call “growth hubs”—metro areas like London, Paris and Amsterdam that attract candidates from across the continent.

Though hiring may not have fully rebounded, opportunities in knowledge-intensive sectors (think: project management) are still expected to outpace those in manufacturing and agriculture. And while researchers estimate that 22 percent of workforce activities could be automated by 2030, those positions most at risk of automation are wholesale and retail, manufacturing, and food services and accommodation.

Meanwhile, employers could face an uphill battle in finding the talent they need to fill the professional positions still very much alive: Europe’s working-age population is expected to shrink by 13.5 million (about 4 percent) by 2030. Germany, Italy and Poland will be hardest hit, meaning project managers there could find themselves with boundless opportunities.

Regardless of country, though, research shows Europeans are shifting a significant portion of their entertainment and grocery purchases to online— creating demand for organizations to pivot to meet customer demand.

“I have noticed a huge spike for project managers in the digital space because of the pandemic,” says Luiz Andre Dias, PMP, PgMP, head of portfolio management transformation, DWP Digital, Newcastle, England. “Many digital projects have been accelerated and require a larger number of resources.”

img

—Luiz Andre Dias, PMP, PgMP, DWP Digital, Newcastle, England

Sector Surge

Three sectors are expected to account for more than 70 percent of Europe’s potential job growth through 2030, according to McKinsey.

img

Have Passport, Will Travel

For project managers looking to get hired, relocation might be a smart first step. Forty-eight megacities and hubs have contributed 35 percent of the European Union’s job growth since 2007, according to McKinsey. And if the underlying trends of labor migration, skills shift and automation hold steady, those same cities will capture more than 50 percent of the job growth through 2030. On the flip side, the share of Europeans living in regions with shrinking job markets could double over the next decade—to about 40 percent. Moving to an urban center may mean fighting it out with more candidates, but there’s no question it can also mean a greater number of positions to vie for.

img

PHOTO BY XINHUA/ZHANG GAIPING VIA GETTY IMAGES

—Construction at the Karuma hydropower project in Uganda

imgAfrica

The Outlook: While the IMF praises African authorities for acting quickly to bolster their economies after COVID-19 emerged, those efforts have been stymied by declining revenues and limited economic power. The IMF estimates the continent will bounce back, posting 3.4 percent growth in 2021, but notes it will need to rely on the help of development partners to realize a true recovery.

The Opportunity: Job opportunities in African countries for educated professionals have been severely impacted by the pandemic, says Ernesto Spruyt, founder of Tunga.io, a company in Kampala, Uganda dedicated to providing tech jobs to young Africans. “Quite a lot of investment plans have been shelved, and we notice that the decision to move forward overall takes longer and is studied much more rigorously,” he says.

Even in countries with relatively few reported COVID-19 cases, such as Tanzania, hiring managers seem hesitant. Bulla Boma Hekeno, PMP, CEO of HEBO Consult in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, notes that most companies, as well as the government, have not eliminated jobs and have raced to instill adequate safety measures in workplaces.

Still, the pandemic will require organizations to adapt to the new reality. “Organizations’ initial strategies have had to be reviewed to account for the market reality, and some development projects have had to be put on indefinite hold,” she says.

img

—Bulla Boma Hekeno, PMP, HEBO Consult, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The tension between managing costs and pushing to embrace innovation and growth can be difficult to navigate. “You have companies that have strategies for the new normal and related innovation investments,” says Spruyt. “But you also have companies who try to sit it out and wait for things to go back to normal. I think the latter ones, in the end, will not prevail.”

Regional Rebound

The economic fallout of the pandemic is hard to predict, but in October the World Bank released 2021 projections underscoring that Africa’s recovery will almost certainly be uneven.

Growth prospects for East and Southern Africa are projected to average 2.7 percent this year. In West and Central Africa, projected growth is less than half that, at 1.3 percent. It’s worth noting, though, that excluding Nigeria buoys prospects to 3.0 percent in 2021.

South Africa Spotlight

More than 2.2 million jobs were lost during South Africa’s national lockdown, but market firm CareerJunction’s index shows that hiring activity for professional positions climbed in October. The three sectors most in demand in the country: IT, finance and business management services.

The Next Wave

Generation Z is filling entry-level positions in the job market. But those youngest workers have different needs and desires than millennials and older workers.

img

Source: 2020 Generation Z Job Seeker Report, Zippia, 2020; Inclusion: The Deciding Factor, Intel, 2020

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Related Content

Advertisement