COVID-19 Is Causing Many to Consider New Careers

With the unemployment rate at a record high, it should come as no surprise that many are considering a change of career. With many workers being laid off or furloughed in industries hit hard by the pandemic, changing careers is a no-brainer, but this could have a major impact on employers trying to retain workers in these hard-hit areas.

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A new iHire survey helps drive this point home. Consider this stat: 61.8% of workers are considering a major career change in the coming year. Of that percentage, nearly half (28.6%) of respondents said a change is “very likely.” The interest in changing careers is a direct result of COVID-19’s impact on the U.S. labor market, according to iHire.

 “Job seekers are exploring alternative industries not only due to layoffs, but also because their sectors—such as hospitality, culinary, and travel—have changed dramatically due to COVID-19 restrictions,” said Steve Flook, iHire’s President and CEO, in a press release. “In some cases, people are changing careers because of the high demands of working in essential industries, like healthcare, throughout the pandemic.”

Could Gig Work Drive Employment Post-COVID?

For jobseekers unwilling or unable to work in high-demand industries, like health care, another alternative to employment is gig or freelance work. But has COVID-19 impacted those workers, too?

According to a different survey released by creative services provider Bunny Studios, 42% of respondents say their freelance work has remained the same since COVID-19 began, while 40% say they have received less freelance work.

For the 40% who are receiving less work, this news is unsettling when you consider that 57% of freelancers say this is their primary source of income and 43% use this work as a secondary income to help pick up the slack from their main incomes.

What’s interesting to note is that 97% of respondents see freelancing as a long-term choice (lasting more than a year), and 29% say their main reason for freelancing is the flexibility in the work schedule.

COVID-19 has forced many employers to adopt more flexible scheduling to help working parents meet the demands of their school-aged children, who are also doing remote learning, but once the pandemic passes, could this trend also fade away? With a majority of freelancers saying they want to make this type of work a long-term choice, many employers may have to turn to gig workers to fill vacancies. Only time will tell what the labor market will look like post-COVID, however.