Jobs needed in the wake of the COVID-19 virus

BryanNambaBryanNamba Posts: 47 XPRIZE
edited March 2020 in Prize Design
What jobs are expected to be in high demand in the wake of COVID-19 virus?

Our team has identified the following two sectors:
  1. Healthcare workers (nursing, lab technicians, care takers)
  2. Education (remote teachers, tutors)

What other sectors/jobs will be in high demand? What are the challenges with rapidly up-skilling people into these roles?


  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    I suspect teleworking will become more common now that employers see they don't need to have their workers in the office five days per week. So companies supporting that, such as Slack and Zoom, should do well.

    I'm less sure about delivery, which is seeing an increase in jobs right now. Will people go back to dining out and shopping as usual after this crisis?
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    Let me ask the futurists in our group for their opinion: @Jerome, @ymedan, @Ted, @temmmmm, @marz62, which jobs do you think will be in high demand after the corona crisis?
  • marz62marz62 Seattle, WAPosts: 122 ✭✭✭
    I'm not sure what time period "in the wake of" refers to, as the virus is given a decent probability (by several epidemiologists) of resurfacing in the late Summer/Fall of 2020 -- and a vaccine will not be available until at least Winter 2020, if not 2021. We've got 18 months of this...according to some public health experts. So, my suggestions here are to apply to the near to medium term future including any 'interim' period between* outbreaks. It's the new normal folks.

    *NOTE: Also: Dennis Carroll of the Global Virome Project predicts a viral pandemic/outbreak will occur every 2-3 years.

    Truckers (high wage) will be in high demand, of course, along with grocery workers (low to medium wage). Sanitation workers -- specifically bio-hazard workers and decontamination companies -- as well as emergency shelter construction companies (temporary field hospitals and 'medical stations', such as we have here in WA state) will see growth going forward (as, hopefully, states learn many valuable lessons about preparedness [see note, above])

    Teachers and teaching aides (assisting with 'teleschooling' classes/lessons) and 'home-schooling consultants' (not to forget baby sitters and 'parental assistants' (to give parents a break from having kids at home all day).

    Remote instruction (e.g., fitness trainers) of many kinds will be in demand as will be audio/visual technicians to produce (e.g., pro-editing) the content prior to publishing or streaming.

    The surging popularity of home (cable TV) streaming content (and cable-exclusive entertainment) -- already seeing strong growth -- will drive strong demand for film/television producers/production companies (and their production /technical crews).

    I see 3D printing outfits specializing in basic bio-medical (prophylactic) equipment (esp. those with latent capacity and/or moderate scalability) -- already being called upon to produced respirator masks -- will be positioned for growth and/or consolidation into larger manufacturing centers.

    In the event of a prolonged pandemic, or a second one, Home Health Aides (these are, non-nurse, trained/certified healthcare workers that do basic home healthcare assistance and assist with prescribed treatments like physical therapy) will be in great demand by recovery stage patients (and their families) convalescing at home (plus, many families may opt for home healthcare given the high risk/fatality rate of elderly people at assisted living and retirement communities during an outbreak).

    I think people will return to restaurant eating, but slowly and not likely in the same numbers. Food / meal trucks -- already a growing trend here in Seattle -- will continue growing in number -- but with the proviso that these be certified and inspected (to allay peoples concerns about pathogen spread).

    Lastly (for now), laws and regulations established in the wake of this pandemic (and addressing future risks of new contagions) will require a COMPLIANCE industry to inspect trucks, food prep facilities (and equipment) and issue certifications (or citations for fines) and collection of fines..

    As for working entirely from home: this 'growing trend' (more like an 'explosion' of late) is LONG over-due (in terms of becoming ubiquitous or pervasive in occupations formerly still operating 'in situ'); it was all predicted by Alvin Toffler (The Third Wave) in 1981 and he referred to it as the "electronic cottage" effect (or phenomenon).

  • BryanNambaBryanNamba Posts: 47 XPRIZE
    @marz62 Thank you so much for all of this! It's really helpful to hear these perspectives! Healthcare and education were jobs we had identified, will definitely look into the others.
  • marz62marz62 Seattle, WAPosts: 122 ✭✭✭
    Concerning home health aides*: I neglected to note the need being partly driven by self-quarantining people (people who have come in contact with an infected person, but which may be 'all clear', or in 'pre-symptomatic' or asymptomatic stages) especially the 50 years and older segment. Thus also, a 'home helping' industry should emerge in some form that includes cooks, dieticians, life coaches, etc.

    * this group quite apart from health care workers (in medical facilities) in general. In this regard, one might expect auxiliary medical professions (with authority and training to act in a medical capacity -- similar to physicians' assistants now, or possibly army medics -- in early stages of disasters/pandemics or remote locations).
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    Thanks, @marz62! It looks like some of the jobs we were expecting to disappear as a result of automation, such truck drivers and possibly food delivery, might be in higher demand in the short term. Given longer-term trends, though, I'm not sure it would be wise for us to focus on those professions in this prize. When it comes to gig work, that could also contradict our ambition to provide low-skill and low-wage workers with more fulfilling work.

    @Ann, @Jackeez, since @marz62 mentioned such industries as media and food services, I'd like to ask your opinion on jobs on those sectors as well.

    @lheisser, what's your take on the job situation in marketing, PR, etc.?
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    @dughogan, you may also have insight on the likely job situation in the media and entertainment industries in the next few years?
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    @Klaus, I'd also like to ask your opinion.
  • KlausKlaus Posts: 16 ✭✭
    I agree with a lot that is written here by @BryanNamba @marz62 and @NickOttens

    What I think is important to consider is the short-run, versus medium-run, versus long-run aspect. I think that in the short run many jobs that are susceptible to automation (from a long-run perspective) will be in higher demand due to the epidemic. This should not be mistakenly seen as an indicator that they will do well in the long run. Due to the very increase in demand today, the pressure to automate will rise further in the medium to long run.

    In addition, in the medium run when the epidemic is still severe, there will be another new aspect to consider in the decision to automate certain jobs namely that doing so might help breaking transmission chains for the virus. For example, if delivery can take place by drones/robots, this reduces human contacts. Diagnosing apps will also get a boost due to the current situation.

    Overall, professions requiring direct human contact (apart from healthcare) are likely to suffer. This includes. In this regard everybody who is able to adapt (say teachers who deliver online courses and fitness trainers who deliver personal online classes) will have an advantage.
  • marz62marz62 Seattle, WAPosts: 122 ✭✭✭
    Yes...short - medium term job growth verses the longer term trending towards partial or full automation. Within this sector (automation/AI/robotics) we are already seeing presentations about, and prototypes of, 'robotic companions' (see: Stuart Russell, Toby Wash, and colleagues); a trend appealing to socially isolated persons, with more widespread need during a pandemic that mandates 'social distancing'), efforts to build/design an affordable and multi-functional (e.g., able to take/monitor human temperature measurements and report changes) robot companion will spur on the consumer robotics industry (some parts of which, like assembly, can in fact be done by robots) which will require suppliers (materials), engineers (systems), designers (to create human-friendly models, like 'Pepper', programmers..and a host of supporting occupations.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    Klaus wrote: »
    I think that in the short run many jobs that are susceptible to automation (from a long-run perspective) will be in higher demand due to the epidemic. This should not be mistakenly seen as an indicator that they will do well in the long run. Due to the very increase in demand today, the pressure to automate will rise further in the medium to long run.

    This is a great point! We should be careful not to over-correct and focus on jobs that are in higher demand right now, but which are still likely to disappear in the medium term.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    @jkesler, @nanditabthakur11, @Abbie, @YigalKerszenbaum, can I ask your opinion on this question as well? Are there any jobs we've overlooked?

    In addition to the ones discussed above, we've identified:
    • Solar panel installers
    • People who prepare, install, clean, and sterilize medical equipment
    • Computer user support specialists

    as occupations that may be future- and recession-proof.

    They all have higher-than-average incomes and were already expected to grow above average pre-pandemic.

    They also don't require certification, which means teams competing in our prize competition could devise an up-skilling program for them.

    What do you think?
  • nanditabthakur11nanditabthakur11 Mrs Posts: 5 ✭✭
    Hi nick......I think the job of health workers, medical stores, technologist ( in the field of sewage plant, medical equipments, IT ), online teaching job, restaurant and scientist will be in high demand.
  • BryanNambaBryanNamba Posts: 47 XPRIZE
    edited March 2020
    Hi @marz62, @Klaus, @NickOttens and @nanditabthakur11. Thank you all for sharing thoughts and raising great questions. Let's break out short, medium, and long term. Let's focus on health care jobs that are needed in the next 12 months for just a bit. We can then zoom out.

    I've seen some articles around the need for health technicians. So much so that places are asking retired technicians to return to the frontlines to help the cause. This is just one example of a job that may be in high demand in the coming months. What training models exist for these workers and why are current training and placement practices not meeting the demand for workers? Have you seen any state-of-the-art programs doing this quickly and effectively?
  • KlausKlaus Posts: 16 ✭✭
    Thanks for posing such an important question in this context @BryanNamba!

    I think this is indeed a huge problem at the moment because spare capacities in the health sector were always seen as something that is inefficient by consultants and policymakers. In times of crises, of course, this leads to many problems that are difficult to tackle in the short run. What I have heard and read about are mainly the following strategies

    - As you also mention, to bring back retired doctors, nurses, medical technicians, etc.

    - To offer some in these professions who are close to graduation a fast track to graduating (just read that NYU offers early graduation to medical students to become doctors and I have also read that senior medical students are asked to work in hospitals now in some countries)

    - In Austria we still have compulsory military service and the only way for young men to get around serving in the army is to do an alternative service, mainly as assistants in health-care related services for which they get a basic training (admittedly this is usually not much more than a few days of instructions). At the moment, the cohorts who did this service in the last five years are required to get back and assist in, e.g., care facilities for older adults or as paramedics in ambulances.

    - In general, I could imagine that countries will introduce fast track education/instruction for becoming paramedics and probably also for some health technicians.

    However, also in this context, automation seems to play a crucial role. As far as I got to know (but I am by no means an expert), testing for COVID-19 used to be very labor intensive and took quite long. This is now greatly alleviated by having tests that work largely automated. This should take some pressure off the health technicians in these areas I would guess.
  • ymedanymedan Founder and CTO Posts: 127 ✭✭✭
    I apologize for not responding earlier. Crazy times here on my side of the pond.

    Caregivers for the elderly will be in high demand at various levels, from physical to emotional support. In fact, when the crisis is over, the main challenge will be to restore trust in the government and to improve resiliency of the general population.
  • marz62marz62 Seattle, WAPosts: 122 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2020
    I want to make a correction to my original post here:

    Media (TV and Film) production crews will, unfortunately, NOT be finding more work in a pandemic ('stay-at-home') environment. According to a good friend who works in the industry, Hollywood -- and indeed most indy production companies -- have completely shut down operations due to the pandemic and social distancing proscriptions.

    My thinking was (a bit naively) derived from

    1] the reported (and personally experienced) increase in 'binge-watching' (Prime, Netflix, Hulu, etc.), and,

    2] my personal experience -- "back in the day" -- when small independent crews of less than a dozen folks (with members often performing multiple roles) -- were a common thing and who generated most of the first 'indy' / 'art-house' films back in the 80s and early 90s (before they had 'proved' their box office credibility and started attracting million dollar investors, budgets, and expanded crews).

    That said, there is an emerging trend on cable TV: the 'repackaging' of previously aired content into 'new' shows (e.g. "greatest UFC fights of all time", etc.). This trend includes 'documentaries' composed primarily from archival footage (old broadcast news footage, film clips, even solo interviews). This repackaged content (created 'in-house') requires film/video/digital editors (and some support staff, like audio engineers/mixers, CGI artists, etc. who can work remotely with shared media files).

    So, these media production) folks will certainly have continued (or increased) work during this current, and likely future, epi/pandemics.

    Final Note: Do we speculate as to the work trends POST pandemic? When considering what sectors will experience a 'boom' (post pandemic), I think TV/Film production companies and studios (especially those that make their products available through subscriptions streaming services) will see a spectacular boom/demand for NEW content...given the fact that their prior-produced content will have been viewed (perhaps multiple times) by stay-at-home populations (some who normally do not view streaming service content) 'binging' on available content.
  • HeatherSuttonHeatherSutton Project Specialist Posts: 77 XPRIZE
    edited April 2020
    @marz62 - What an awesome list you've put together there! So helpful. And who could blame you for thinking that streaming entertainment production would explode during this time? We're all eating popcorn with you and the Tiger King :D .

    I have seen some shows (esp the solo-tainer shows such as John Oliver, Jimmy Fallon and Colbert) adapt to the change by doing paired down productions from home.

    Do you see this as a possible trend? Maybe improved at-home production technologies and remote-working production techs/crews?
  • serinityserinity Founder Posts: 7
    As for the impact on marketing/PR, we’re experiencing a lot of tumult, as most industries are. Brands will need to want to invest in marketing their products. I am seeing clients mostly scale back but not stop their investments. Provided that that businesses have some runway to keep investing. Retail sector is being hardest hit, technology much less so.
  • marz62marz62 Seattle, WAPosts: 122 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2020
    @HeatherSutton - Thanks! And yes, I do see these 'paired down' productions as a trend (i.e., remote production crews of maybe 3-4 people + talent) least during this time of conronavirus*. Small, mobile, remote media production crews (inclusive of 'post-production' which can be accomplished via the cloud / remote server file transfers between team members with desktop editing programs) would seem to be the smart and most practical response. We already have 'live news' coverage teams that are sent to active news sites.

    Also: web-based, "live-streaming" programs/platforms - offering high res / high bandwidth content -- will see a huge surge in use. Mobile phone apps that provide these capabilities (distributed over subscriber/user networks) will likewise see major growth

    * About this current contagion: I do not think this is going to have a definitive 'endpoint', but rather, a succession of (perhaps over-lapping or recurrent) phases: from resurgent outbreaks (seasonal or opportunistic, probably smaller / limited spatio-temporally) to mass vaccination roll-outs (effective but temporary, requiring periodic 'boosters')...The most realistic scenario that I can foresee is that these phases -- their duration and intensity -- will diminish over time....and become 'manageable' ...until the inevitable 'new' (or mutated) strain of virus arrives.

    All of what we are experiencing now will be invaluable preparation for the next contagion (which may prove to be even more lethal). We should keep in mind that Climate Change forecasters have long-predicted an increase in contagions (some that will impact only animals, or plants/trees, like the pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae infestations that have wiped out red pines in the US West).

    The more flexible, mobile, and 'exaptive' (preparatory for evolutionary adaption) we can be, the better. Clearly, though, we cannot ignore those folks who experience higher levels of economic disparity or inequality; we must help build resilience among economically challenged or impoverished communities (wherever they may be) whose lives, vulnerabilities, and challenges will inevitably intersect with those of us who are more affluent.
  • feskafifeskafi Co-founder Posts: 8
    edited April 2020
    @HeatherSutton @BryanNamba, NY Times published an article on where how the virus transformed the way Americans spend their money.

    It worths the look.
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    @CindyUNC flagged this in another discussion, but it may be relevant to this discussion as well.

    Findings by Burning Glass Technologies:
    • On average, job postings across the United States fell 29% between the week of March 2 and the week of March 23.
    • Entertainment and the arts saw a 70% drop in job postings.
    • Retail industry saw a comparatively modest decline: 11%.
    • Job postings fell 49% in tourism and restaurants.
  • HeatherSuttonHeatherSutton Project Specialist Posts: 77 XPRIZE
    marz62 wrote: »
    The more flexible, mobile, and 'exaptive' (preparatory for evolutionary adaption) we can be, the better. Clearly, though, we cannot ignore those folks who experience higher levels of economic disparity or inequality; we must help build resilience among economically challenged or impoverished communities (wherever they may be) whose lives, vulnerabilities, and challenges will inevitably intersect with those of us who are more affluent.

    @marz62 - Perfectly said! Thank you for your insights!!!
  • HeatherSuttonHeatherSutton Project Specialist Posts: 77 XPRIZE
    @feskafi - What an interesting article. And yes...I see myself represented in that bubble chart too :) My husband and I have slashed our 2020 plans for travel and we've been focusing on making delicious meals and keeping ourselves entertained.It's interesting to see that gaming and video streaming lay side by side with food service. It's clear that entertainment and the call to be challenged are nourishing for us humans. And the good news is, there isn't a scarcity of entertainment or games. I am very curious to see how these "high-spend" industries and services evolve (assuming our current situation lasts a while).

    How do you see these industries changing (both in the short and long term)?
  • marz62marz62 Seattle, WAPosts: 122 ✭✭✭
    One other factor that will buttress expansion/growth of additive/3D printing enterprising (during this an future pandemics) is the oft-noted 'disruption of supply chains' due to fast-spreading epidemics in primary supplier nations (e.g., China).

    These real and potential (future) disruptions force small, medium and even lager companies to seek alternative supply sources. This seeking of alternative sources will likely turn inward and impel companies to establish their own manufacturing capacity -- at least for critical components.

    Consequently, there will be high demand for additional 3D printing/additive 'feed stocks' (e.g., thermoplastic resins, and alternative [eco-friendly], printable material feed stocks for novel component printing).

    For small, mobile DIY outfits, we may also see expansion of bio-design technology and outputs (cells and cellular products like proteins).

    Likewise, the design software that supports 3D printing and bio-design tech may see growth (although we are seeing now growth in open source software, so, economic disruption will continue, spurred on out of necessity).
  • NickOttensNickOttens Community Manager Amsterdam, NetherlandsPosts: 895 admin
    @Sanak, @clargacha, @AdrianFC, I'd like to ask for your opinion here as well. What jobs do you think will be needed in the wake of COVID-19? And what jobs might decline, or even disappear, permanently as a result of the pandemic?
  • AdrianFCAdrianFC Founder Posts: 8
    I think that from an anthropological standpoint, the thing that has ensured the survival of the human race is our ability to cooperate and compete. When the sum of all parts is greater than the whole, humanity wins which I think is deeply in line with the work of the XPRIZE. I also really like Simon Sinek's perspective that he shared in a published team meeting by zoom, where he says "these are not unprecedented times" from a business standpoint. Because previously the internet put people out of business, so did starbucks, netflix, shopping malls and the internal combustion engine. He talks about a high end and much loved restaurant in New York that evolved and everyone who worked there kept their jobs, because they changed their jobs. The restaurant pivoted into a delivery service very quickly an nobody got laid off. He talks about job re-invention, rather than job obsolescence which I think is very encouraging. If you're curious and haven't seen it - here is that zoom meeting with his team.
  • AdrianFCAdrianFC Founder Posts: 8
    Just to follow on, I'd be super curious to know the opinion of thought leaders in the hiring space for example:
    - Martin Yate, CPC, Author of Knock Em Dead
    - Richard N. Bolles, Author of What Color is your Parachute
    - Lou Adler, Author of Hiring and Getting Hired
    - Melissa Hooven-Powell, Consultant on All Things Getting Hired
  • jordangialijordangiali Research Analyst Posts: 43 XPRIZE
    @AdrianFC Thank you for your feedback and for sharing the video of Simon and his team - this was very inspiring and thought-provoking! Do you think that many of the recently laid-off, vulnerable (i.e. - low-wage/low-skill) workers will have to reinvent themselves like Simon mentions? How can our prize idea best serve as an onramp to a new career for these individuals? We'd love to hear your thoughts, along with anyone else's!
  • AdrianFCAdrianFC Founder Posts: 8
    Glad you enjoyed that Jordan. I think the central point Sinek makes is that individuals will choose between an infinite mindset or a survival mindset and if history is anything to go by the infinite mindset is what drives progress and re-invention. I think that while the rule book is currently being re-written, we should probably take another closer look at the concept of "low wage / low skill" and re-frame this idea into a more helpful perspective. Farm laborers or construction workers might be considered "low wage / low skill" one minute, and 'essential' the next. My hope is that the prize will challenge outdated paradigms like "low wage low skill" and instead focus on new matches between what is needed and who can provide it with creative new delivery mechanisms. I've been inspired by "Give Work" by Leila Janah that I highly recommend as well as "The Year Without Pants" by Scott Berkun. I also love Benjamin Zander's The Art of Possibility as a powerful and creative reframes.
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