The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated unparalleled upheavals in the global job market.

    This article investigates the enduring and evolving trends, encompassing unemployment, informal employment, productivity growth, youth job market prospects, gender equity in leadership positions, and the gender wage gap.

    Unemployment Trends

    In the aftermath of the pandemic, the global unemployment rate witnessed a significant drop in 2022, plummeting from 6.9% in 2020 to 5.8%. Despite the uncertainties clouding the global economic horizon, unemployment is expected to increase moderately in 2023 due to the absorption of the shock by declining real wages amid escalating inflation. However, global unemployment is forecasted to inch upward in 2023 and 2024, settling at around 211 million, although the rate will maintain its course at 5.8%.

    Surge in Informal Employment

    The global informal employment sector experienced an uptick in 2022, with approximately 58% or 2 billion of the world’s employed population finding themselves in precarious job situations, bereft of social protection. The pandemic forced an inordinate number of workers, especially women, into these lower-quality jobs, effectively undermining the slight pre-pandemic reduction in informal employment.

    Deceleration of Productivity Growth

    Global labour productivity rebounded in 2021 with a growth of 2.4%, following a severe downturn in 2020. Yet, the productivity growth rate slowed to just 0.5% in 2022. An alarming revelation is the ongoing deceleration of productivity growth worldwide, even before the pandemic, which exacerbates crises in purchasing power, well-being, and ecological sustainability.

    Worsening Job Market Prospects for Youth

    The COVID-19 pandemic escalated an already deteriorating trend: nearly a quarter (23.5%) of the world’s youth were not engaged in education, employment, or training (NEET) in 2022, a slight decrease from 2020 but higher than pre-pandemic rates. The effects of this trend could be profound, as 289 million young people are neither acquiring professional experience nor developing their skills, thus creating a challenging transition into the labour market in the future.

    Generational Gap to Achieve Gender Parity in Leadership

    Despite accounting for almost 40% of total employment, women held a mere 28.2% of management positions globally in 2021. While this figure is slightly higher than in pre-pandemic times, progress is slow, with a mere 0.9 percentage point increase since 2015. At this sluggish pace, it could take more than 140 years to achieve gender parity in managerial positions.

    A Wider Gender Pay Gap

    Gender pay equity is essential for decent work for all. Unfortunately, the gender wage gap is far wider than previously thought. Women only earned 52 cents for every dollar men earned in 2020. The situation is much graver in low and lower-middle-income countries, where women earn a shocking 33 and 29 cents to the dollar, respectively. The causes are manifold, including women’s lower employment levels and their lower average earnings when they are employed.

    In the tumultuous aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, three predominant trends – environmental, technological, and economic – are shaping the global job market in unprecedented ways. Understanding these trends is essential for policymakers, employers, and job-seekers to navigate the evolving world of work effectively.

    Green and Local: Job Creation Trends

    The most potent driver of net job creation in the future is investments that accelerate the transition towards green businesses. This includes the widespread adoption of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards and the localisation of supply chains.

    Despite some job displacement, these factors are expected to generate more jobs than they eliminate. The same positive job creation effect is expected from climate change adaptation initiatives and the demographic dividend in developing and emerging economies.

    Technological Advancements: Both a Boon and Bane

    The adoption of new technologies and increased digital access are expected to foster job growth.

    Specific technologies expected to be widely adopted include big data analytics, cloud computing, AI, and digital platforms and apps. Over the next five years, 75% of companies plan to embrace these digital solutions. In contrast, robots, power storage technology, and distributed ledger technologies rank lower on the list.

    These technologies are anticipated to bring a net positive impact on the job market over the next five years. Job growth is expected to be spurred significantly by big data analytics, climate change and environmental management technologies, and encryption and cybersecurity. However, the adoption of certain technologies like AI, digital platforms and apps, and e-commerce and digital trade may disrupt the labour market, although a net positive is expected after job displacement and growth are considered.

    Economic Challenges: Job Destruction Trends

    Factors contributing to net job destruction include slower economic growth, supply shortages, the rising cost of inputs, and increasing living costs for consumers. Other potential sources of disruption include geopolitical divisions and the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, although employers are split on whether these trends will have a positive or negative impact on jobs.

    The Future Job Market: Disruption and Churn

    Over the next five years, employers expect a structural labour market churn – the sum of jobs added and eliminated – of 23%. This figure indicates the level of disruption in the job market, with a higher-than-average churn expected in the Supply Chain, Transportation, Media, Entertainment and Sports industries. In contrast, the Manufacturing, Retail, and Wholesale of Consumer Goods sectors foresee lower churn.

    The post-pandemic global job market landscape is set to experience significant transformation influenced by environmental, technological, and economic factors. As the world of work evolves, those who can adeptly navigate this new landscape – policymakers, employers, and job-seekers alike – will be best positioned for success.

    The aftermath of the pandemic has illuminated and magnified some of the most pressing challenges in the global job market. As the world grapples with these issues, it becomes increasingly crucial to create policies that are not only responsive but also sustainable and inclusive in the long term. A collective global effort is needed to steer the job market toward an equitable, balanced, and prosperous path.

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