The Latest News on COVID-19, Skill Gaps and American Workers
COVID-19 has surfaced these skill gaps: now we need to fill them
COVID-19 has had a mixed effect on training and on-the-job development. On the one hand, people have become doubly interested in continuing education and retraining in order to maintain their jobs, and governments are encouraging this with funding and resources. On the other hand, four months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are on the verge.
Start by closing the skill gaps that COVID-19 has surfaced
So what skills would be needed in the future? While skills in digital and deep technology — data science, AI, machine learning, etc. — will continue to gain in popularity as these areas evolve, COVID-19 has discovered various other skills gaps that will be required to fill in the short term, as people return to work, and later, after a pandemic.
Health and safety skills for the short term
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has generated a growing demand for health and safety knowledge, especially with regard to infection prevention and control. And, of course, these skills are used not only for the period of the pandemic, but also beyond. However, the demand for these skills is likely to be short-term and will return to pre-pandemic levels after the development of a treatment or vaccine.
Digitization skills for the medium term
When countries around the world closed their jobs to prevent the spread of the community, companies around the world had to implement their business continuity plans as soon as possible. One of the skills gaps occurred when switching to digital work.
Melanie Weaver Barnett, Chief Executive Education Officer at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, said: “The lightning-fast changes associated with working in the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed vulnerabilities that make it clear organizations have significant gaps to fill in their capability sets. Some of these critical gaps appear in areas of supply chain resilience, digitization and leading virtual teams.”
Virtual communication and leadership skills for the long term
Key commercial skills, such as team management, multi-market leadership, or sales support, are still important, but now with a twist: they need to be applied in a virtual environment with its impersonal atmosphere and the attendant difficulty in attracting an audience.
Nellie Wartoft, CEO of Tigerhall, emphasized that management and sales are two areas that are usually based on personal contacts, but are currently online. She said: “For example, how can we support managers in keeping their teams motivated and engaged now that in-person interactions are rare? How can we equip sales representatives with the skills to present, negotiate with clients and “read the room” effectively over a Zoom meeting?”
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Employees Look to HR to Evaluate COVID-19 Data Before Reopening
It is logical that there are both more cases and more infections than are being reported, since the testing numbers are still relatively low
As new businesses open, employers will need to decide whether it is safe to visit the office based on the data that they receive from local health authorities. Understanding this data will determine how employers will design their jobs to ensure adequate social distance within the office, how many workers will be allowed into the office at any time, and whether remote work will continue for the foreseeable future.
Employer responses will also depend on the work environment in each company. For example, hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies and delivery services need staff at their workplaces; however, many knowledge-based enterprises are better suited to work with remote workers.
Gavin Morton, head of HR and financial operations at HR.com, said that as inconsistencies in the actual number of coronavirus infections and deaths caused by COVID-19 occur, employees will want to know that their employers have looked at the data, carefully examined it and are concerned about their safety.
“We all want to know exactly what’s going on, but it is very difficult for medical professionals and coroners to quickly ascribe deaths to COVID-19 or other causes,” Morton said. “It is logical that there are both more cases and more infections than are being reported, since the testing numbers are still relatively low, and we may not know for years what the true impact has been.”
Morton said HR professionals should consider and train a leadership team in two key areas:
- How this information affects business and employees. Some data may have little or no effect on the company, depending on factors such as location and type of business, while other information may have a serious impact. An outbreak of illness in a city four hours away may not bother the local staff of the organization, but if someone lives in that city, they may be very concerned about it personally.
- The mood of the staff. It is very important to understand how employees feel and how new data can affect their confidence in their safety.
Tracking contacts, new cases of coronavirus, new hospitalizations, as well as increasing or decreasing the number of people dying from COVID-19, will be important data that will help plan the HR managers.
Judge Rules American Companies Can Be Sued for Preferring U.S. Workers
The Supreme Court’s decision in DHS v. Regents of the University of California are likely to determine the face of the DACA program, and such an opinion is expected in a few weeks.
The case is the protection for American workers. If it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will recognize the DACA as legitimate, this will mean that the process of using the rules to repeal immigration protections for US workers is also legal and may continue. Therefore, when business groups do not like some kind of protection for American workers, they can contact DHS to get a resolution allowing them to hire foreign workers without applying such protection.
Judge Kathleen M. Williams of the Southern District of Florida served up another DACA-related kick in the teeth to American workers. Up until now, it had been considered settled law that “United States workers” (citizens, nationals, permanent residents, refugees, and asylees) were the protected labor class under immigration law. A patriotic employer can only hire US workers and refuse to hire others.
Procter & Gamble followed the established discrimination rules that allow preference for U.S. workers. For their internship program, they required the applicant to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, refugee, or asylee.
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