Let's continue to build community - employment
From a talk by Mal Fletcher at an Everything event
Mal Fletcher, a social futurist, recently spoke in an online session with church leaders organised by Everything, on, among other things, the prospects for employment post-Covid-19.
The OECD represents the world's 37 richest nations. It predicts that countries like Britain, France, Italy, and Spain will lose more than 1/10th of their national output in 2020. It predicts that economic growth will begin to bounce back, but only in 2021. Recovery from any recession will depend on at least two things. Obviously fiscally responsible government and innovation in every sector of industry and society.
And this is where the church has such an important role to play. We can equip, we can resource, we can celebrate innovators in our congregations and in our wider communities. Mal Fletcher's definition of innovation is a very simple one. Innovation is the application of creativity to solve pragmatic or practical problems. And in the age of Covid-19, innovation will trump professional qualification every time.
There's very little doubt that one of the greatest legacies of Covid-19 will be its impact on the jobs market. Certain sectors will continue to be hit the hardest, retail and tourism being just two. The unemployment situation might also hit another bump in the road when the government scheme to pay salaries for furloughed workers finally comes to an end.
Underemployment was already becoming an issue pre-Covid-19 in the face of the rising tide of automation in industry. Something that will very much affect people in our churches. So for many people, career transition will become the norm. New technologies do always bring new jobs, but the question this time is whether we can transition quickly enough, not just from one job to another, but from one entire livelihood to another.
One of the biggest concerns about Covid-19 when it comes to employment will be impact on jobs for the young who will face all of these things in the future. There are great opportunities here though for churches to create temporary, pop up learning nodes for young people to prepare them for the evolving, changing workspace. Mentoring networks hosted by churches. Reverse mentoring groups, where younger workers can mentor their elders in areas where they are skilled, particularly in the use of digital tech.
Churches will want to train and resource new pastoral workers ready for future needs. The one thing robots can't do, if you think about it, is empathise. Because empathy requires a shared human experience. Churches might offer anxiety and stress management training to help people deal with rapid transition.
Businesses, large and small, will be making changes in the post-lockdown pre-vaccine period and possibly long after that. Some will adopt staggered working hours, either because of the need to reduce proximity in the workspace or reduce the load on the public transport system. Many people have tasted the freedoms of home working now. That's good news for the environment. On the downside though, homeworking provides fewer opportunities for social interaction, which again is good for mental health, and productivity, especially when it comes to collaborative innovation.
More companies will engage with social enterprise. Social enterprise solves social problems in profitable ways. These are for-profit businesses that focus on promoting the common good. Churches around the world have set up their own social enterprises. More businesses will also become aware of a thing called return on community. People the world over no longer want to work for companies that simply have the common good on the very edge, on the periphery of their strategy. They want to work for companies where this is at the core of the thinking. They want to know they're investing each day in something beyond the corporate front door.
Let's sum the above up. Employment in our communities will be affected by Covid-19. Many people will struggle to find employment they are used to. Churches i.e. the people, can have a pro-active role to play. This could be:
equipping, resourcing, celebrating innovators in our congregations and in our wider communities;
helping people through career transition;
creating temporary, pop up learning nodes and mentoring networks;
training, resourcing pastoral workers;
offering anxiety and stress management training;
setting up their own social enterprises.
And, of course, we can pray for people affected!
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