COVID-19 Strains Local Labour Market Further
Companies recruiting in the COVID-19 aftermath prefer people with working experience leaving thousands of people unemployed.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, chances of getting employed were minimal. Now the pandemic has decimated what was left leaving thousands of job seekers hopeless.
HWANGE (The Citizen Bulletin) — The skies are always heavily polluted signalling a functional mining industry. Most of these companies are Chinese owned operating coal mines and coke batteries. Over the years these companies have become a source of employment to both skilled and unskilled workers. Similarly, other local companies have created employment opportunities.
But, post COVID-19, the situation has changed.
Hwange had a high number of unemployed youths prior to the COVID-19 era. When COVID-19 came, those employed were retrenched. Companies recruiting in the COVID-19 aftermath prefer previously retrenched people because of their working experience thus pushing the prospects of the unemployed afar.
“Before COVID-19, at least you would know that you could be selected from dozens of people. But now, the preference is for those with experience. Some have worked in rival companies before. So, they are the employers’ choices.”
Siphiwe Shoko, a job seeker
The COVID-19 pandemic set off an unprecedented shock that transformed the lives and livelihoods of individuals around the coal mining town. Its effects have extended beyond the short term into the medium and long term as well. The severe health impacts have been matched by sharp declines in economic activity and upheavals of labour markets in local companies.
State-imposed lockdowns and firms’ closures have had very significant impacts, with hundreds of workers across many companies experiencing a reduction in, or the complete loss of, their livelihoods. As industries, especially the safaris were forced to cease operations in order to protect the health of workers and promote compliance with mitigation and containment policies. Many safaris companies and some mines adopted widespread job retention schemes.
The Citizen Bulletin gathered that people who were retrenched while in supervisory positions are opting for lower postings as they are desperately looking for jobs post COVID-19.
The pandemic, as well as containment and mitigation measures designed to halt its spread, had a large but heterogeneous impact on the demand for skills. Findings by this publication shows that COVID-19 affected individuals with different levels of educational qualifications and that such effect differed across the companies.
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“Previously, anyone could get a job. Now, the post COVID-19 era needs a lot of skilled personnel and just a few unskilled ones,” says Clayton Mishi, a labour expert.
The COVID-19 crisis has had more adverse impacts on the demand for jobs requiring lower qualifications, but not in all companies. Labour experts say it is important for the central government to support the development of skills that foster individuals’ resilience by meeting the demand from labour markets.
“In the medium run, labour market and social policies will need to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape and policy interventions will need to be adjusted in line with the modern demands in industries. The central government must also address pre-existing structural challenges that have accelerated and become more urgent in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Clayton Mishi, a labour expert
Data from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows that young people were left unemployed by the pandemic in far greater numbers than adults, with the effects being felt worse in lower income countries.
“Around the world in 2020, youth employment dropped by 8.7%. For adults the fall in employment was less severe, registering at 3.7%. This difference illustrates the extent of the pandemic’s economic consequences for younger people,” says the report.
With lockdown and other containment measures, most notably in the second quarter of 2020, enacted in most countries, local labour experts say the effects of pandemic-induced economic harm were widespread.
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COVID-19, Hwange district, Matabeleland North, Rooted in Trust 2.0, The Citizen Bulletin, RiT October
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