Bt Ron Maxwell, CEO
There is no denying that COVID-19 has heavily impacted the employment market in both our cities and our regions, with around 1 million displaced workers across the country. With so much uncertainty, it might seem like right now isn’t the time to find a new career. However, with a number of industries facing skill shortages, increased government incentives, and many online study options available, it might just be the right time for some.
Working in the employment services industry, I see first-hand how disheartening it can be to try to find employment in a difficult market, particularly for those with additional barriers to entry, such as mature-age workers or people with a disability. But the right employment can be life-changing and there are still options out there.
Today, I want to share some tips for finding a new career path during COVID-19, whether you are a school leaver, have recently lost employment, or have been unemployed for some time.
#1 Consider reskilling to a new industry
Some heavily impacted industries, like hospitality, are significant employers here in the Central West, as they are in many regional areas. While many of our restaurants and venues are open for business again, operating restrictions and a decline in tourism continue to impact the number of jobs on offer. Unfortunately, we don’t have a crystal ball, so we can’t determine when they will return to previous levels of operating.
For some workers in this industry, particularly those without formal qualifications, now might be the time to look at gaining qualifications or reskilling to a new industry, particularly one that has a need for qualified workers.
#2 Look at industries with skill shortages
I’ve talked before about current and looming skill shortages, and while the impacts of COVID-19 have reduced current opportunities in some industries, increasing the number of qualified workers in these roles remains an important long-term goal.
I read with interest a recent article in the Western Advocate that mentioned 20 occupations that are in demand locally, here in Central West NSW. A majority of those listed, from plumber to chef, nurse to project manager, are occupations that either require or benefit significantly from vocational education and training (VET) qualifications.
From healthcare to traditional trades, there are a number of occupations in demand across the country, and The National Skills Needs List can be a great place to start, as can talking to an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Provider, like VERTO.
#3 Find an occupation that matches your interests
Of course, it’s critical that your choice of study, apprenticeship or traineeship is aligned to your interests and existing skills. For example, roles in health and community services are best suited to those who enjoy caring for others and are comfortable taking on the personal care and heavy lifting requirements too.
Whether you are a recent school leaver or someone looking to transition to a new career, there are tools out there, like VERTO’s CareerGate, that are designed to help you explore your options.
CareerGate is a free, simple to use online platform that matches you with apprenticeship and traineeship options that suit your interests and abilities and can even help you explore local vacancies.
#4 Understand and make use of government incentives
On top of existing incentives for those looking to qualify for occupations on the National Skills Needs List, COVID-19 stimulus packages have increased support for apprentices, trainees and those looking to reskill and upskill.
The Australian Government’s JobTrainer package is designed to help displaced workers reskill, providing funding for around 340,700 training places. Because incentives can be offered at state and federal level, you may be eligible for various programs. VERTO’s Training Services team can help you understand your options and access any funding you are eligible for.
#5 Explore online study options
For many people, studying face-to-face isn’t an option right now, whether that be due to health concerns, government restrictions or geographical barriers. The good news is that the increase in online training options means you can start today from your own home.
While once online training was seen as second-best to in-person, there has been significant innovation in the space. Once, it was simply about making course materials available on the internet, but today it is about interactive experiences, and many courses use a range of technologies, such as artificial intelligence and gamification, to bring study to life.
#6 Talk to a local provider
Talking to a local training and employment services provider, like VERTO, can be really helpful when it comes to exploring and finding the best options for you. A locally-based provider should have their finger on the pulse of what is happening in your area and have good relationships with local businesses and employers. This means they can help you understand both the course and career options available to you along with the employment landscape in your area. This can put you in a great position to make your next career move.