How Coronavirus (COVID-19) Has Created New Job Opportunities for People With Disability
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy. Hundreds of thousands of Australians now out of work. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australia’s unemployment rate for May increased to 7.1%, which is the highest unemployment rate since October 2001.
Although most industries faced turmoil, the sectors that were hit hardest were the ones that experienced the most stringent government restrictions – accommodation, food services, arts, fitness and recreation. While this has caused undue stress and heartache for people working in those industries, the good news is that they are also the sectors that are most likely to make a fast recovery, with many Australians eager to return to their pre-COVID lifestyles.
In a two-week period between 2 May to 15 May, job search website Indeed noted a huge increase in the following search terms:
• Café – 60%
• Hospitality – 29%
• Chef – 27%
• Barista – 27%
• Casual retail – 23%
• Retail – 22%
• Sales assistant – 20%
• Childcare – 19%
• Traineeship – 19%
• Cook – 16%
This reflects the types of roles and industries that got hit the hardest with Coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns.
Re-opening the economy
Compared with the rest of the world, Australia has lived up to its reputation as ‘the lucky country’. We have been so successful in flattening the Coronavirus curve that struggling industries are starting to ease restrictions and open back up again.
Also, some industries have thrived during the pandemic – cleaning services, call centres, delivery services and grocery stores have seen an increase in business and continue to prosper.
The urgency to get the economy back up and running will present new opportunities, as employers scramble to find reliable and dedicated staff to drive their business forward. People with disability will be able to access new forms of employment and hopefully, find a position tailored to suit their specific needs and abilities.
There is an increase in both remote ‘work-from-home’ positions (e.g. admin assistants and call centre staff) and in-person positions as industries reopen for trading (e.g. hotels, gyms and restaurants).
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges for everyone – even more so for those with disability, who often have compromised immune systems. Depending on the disability and the Coronavirus case numbers in the job location, in-person jobs may not be viable or safe for people with disability. The risks and benefits of each position need to be carefully balanced, ensuring the health of the employee is not compromised. During these changing times, employers recognise the need to look after staff and many jobs are now available to allow employees to work from home or with sufficient social distancing, providing a safe alternative for people with compromised immune systems.
The Australian Government National Skills Commission has recently released some data regarding businesses that have started to reopen by industry. This is indicated in the following table:
How have positions vacant changed since Coronavirus?
The employment space has changed indefinitely for all Australians. While traditional face-to-face roles are slowly making a comeback, technology and remote working have further broadened the range of positions available for people with disability.
We have seen an uptick in demand for the following positions and we have many of these roles listed on our website:
• Administration officer / office admin
• Customer service operator
• Data entry clerks
• Delivery drivers
• Kitchen staff
• Retail assistant
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