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How to increase employment during the time of the pandemic

According to the ILO, 400 million fulltime jobs were lost in Q2 of 2020 around the world, such news creates havoc and panic in both the present working population and graduating students across the world, since their future becomes that much more uncertain.

According to the ILO, 400 million fulltime jobs were lost in Q2 of 2020 around the world, such news creates havoc and panic in both the present working population and graduating students across the world, since their future becomes that much more uncertain. This is especially true for the students of travel, tourism, and aviation industries.

Governments around the world are scratching their heads to solve the problem and as of now they are offering furloughs, 0% interest loans and large corporate bailouts. However, such measures are merely like applying a band-aid on a gangrene which is worsening by the day.

We need creative and innovative solutions for this, this write-up is to share my two cents that could potentially address few percentages out of this massive and complex problem.

Let us start with outsourcing of manufacturing work etc. to places such as China. When we do this, we shift millions of job opportunities to such countries and the local market suffers, unable to compete with scale let low cost of production, they slowly die out, killing local industries & jobs. Outsourcing does not help the recipient country either, since working conditions are pathetic with little protection to workers against exploitation, long working hours, absence of health insurance & low salaries.

asian workers in garment factory sewing with industrial sewing m

The pandemic has shown us that we cannot depend on foreign suppliers for our basic needs, we need local production facilities to satisfy local needs. There is a need to invest in our own countries and become self-reliant instead of running to cheaper sources for everything. Upskilling & reskilling of the workforce with latest technologies and High-tech infrastructure investments etc. should be the highest priority, this could address layoffs in several sectors including travel & tourism.

Though such policies could take a long time to show results, but if implemented successfully, could lead to establishment of high tech and scientific institutions & industries such as Processor Fabrication, A.I. research institutions, Advance Medicare etc.

Even though local production might lead to increased costs in the short run, the extra money in the system would also lead to corresponding increase in the purchasing power of the local economy, consumers will adjust to higher costs due to enhanced purchasing power.

Another avenue of employment generation is shifting towards clean energy sources such as Solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, hydroelectric power etc.

One good example is the UAE, despite being such a young nation, UAE is the first in the Gulf region to send to outer space, “Hope Orbiter,” which is now halfway towards Mars. UAE’s space teams are working with several countries including USA’s NASA to get their people trained for manned space missions, such futuristic powerful initiatives are possible only through a strong and visionary leadership that other countries could follow.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a few things, like – need for flexibility in our basic supply chain system and ability to adapt to changing dynamics. Recently, in the USA for instance, where farming is largely mechanized over large swathes of land, farmers are currently facing a nightmarish situation, this year’s bumper harvests must be forcibly destroyed due to inability to reach the market & final consumers. Similarly, large dairies owners are forced to flush down millions of gallons of milk into the sewage or rivers.

 

All this is happening due to the Covid-lockdown, which impacted offtakes by large industry consumers on one hand and the farmers–to-whole sellers-to-retailers supply line on the other. Traditionally, farmers and dairy owners pack in large industry size packaging to ship their produce, which then gets distributed down the supply line in smaller packaging to reach the final consumers. In the absence of any storage at the producer’s end, even picking up farm & milk produce & packaging them has become a losing proposition since there are no buyers. Hence, they are preferring to destroy the produce at the point of production itself. millions of people are out of work and poor

Americans are not able to afford fresh farm produce and milk etc inside several regions of America itself.

These colossal wastages could be easily avoided had smaller high-tech data driven and scientific based local farms, scattered around the country producing and supplying to their vicinity model that thrived in the earlier times – until mechanized farming and large holdings became the vogue. These “farms” could be small green houses, hydroponics vertical farms like in the Singapore, UAE. They could be on building roof tops. They may or may not help the economy in scale, but asides providing supply to the local markets, such initiatives can be permanent source of employment for many people.

The Pandemic in itself is a huge Opportunity, yes, COVID-19 is a treasure trove of job opportunities, in the form of effective vaccine production and distribution (billions of effective doses required). Production and distribution of effective deterrents such as face-masks, PPE kits, gloves, goggles, curative medicines, equipment & machines for treatment, temperature meters, hand sanitizers, sanitizing cabins for offices & establishments, information stickers, outdoor and media information advertisements, ambulances, demand of extra seats on public transportation due to safe-distancing practices, hospitals, beds, doctors, nurses, ward-boys, security personnel, medical insurance agents, all these have created huge requirement of both personnel and investments and are consequently a new parallel economy.

Additionally, due to the rise of work/ study from home, need for user IT equipment’s like laptops, printers, cameras, then connectivity equipment & installation, support and servicing personnel requirement has suddenly multiplied the related businesses to several hundreds and thousands times than the earlier times. Every single household now needs to have a dedicated setup for both offices as well education work. If on the one hand the demand for office and establishment space has reduced, but the need for larger homes and dedicated space for each person has grown. Suddenly close living spaces are crying for conversion to villa and large space to accommodate everyone’s requirement to effectively carry on life on a distance connected mode.

IT being the backbone for Distance working, or hybrid learning, there is huge surge in the technology aspects, a handful of large “Tech giants” is quickly giving way to local level solutions providers. Governments around the world needs to nurture more startups and local tech companies’ model to assist in this global transformation to the new way of living and the world order.

Finally, as the days go by, it is increasingly evident that the world will become a tougher place to live in the short run, more and more traditional model jobs are going to be axed, we may witness  higher unemployment rates, poverty, and misery. The world is at a crisis and can ill afford conflicts and wars amongst nations. There was never a time when strong leaderships and statesmen were more needed than now.

 

This blog is by Arunav Roy Chowdhurys : he can be contacted at arunav@uk-iq.co.uk

Sources:

  1. Job Losses
    1. https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/briefingnote/wcms_749399.pdf
    2. https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/economy/covid-19-400-mln-jobs-lost-in-q2-2020-says-international-labour-organization-72086
  2. UAE Space Mission-
    1. https://gulfbusiness.com/nasa-to-train-four-emirati-astronauts-for-future-missions/#:~:text=The%20Mohammed%20Bin%20Rashid%20Space,latter%20will%20train%20Emirati%20astronauts.
    2. https://www.euronews.com/2020/07/23/the-hope-probe-the-arab-world-s-first-interplanetary-mission
  1. Growing Food in Desert
    1. https://u.ae/en/information-and-services/environment-and-energy/agriculture-sector#:~:text=for%20sustainable%20agriculture.-,Agriculture%20hydroponics,of%20little%20or%20no%20soil.
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