The way people work has been inexorably altered by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting national lockdowns. While some people have been able to work from home, this hasn’t been the case for all. Add to that a number of organisations being forced to think about how many people it employs, and the job market will likely be one of the hardest hit during 2020.

Looking at how COVID-19 has impacted the job market, and in particular some of the trends occurring in South Africa, is employment marketplace Jooble.

Scouring over data from the past couple of weeks (March 2020), Jooble has been able to provide some rather interesting insights into how South African job hunters are adjusting their habits as a result of COVID-19, along with what the lockdown has revealed about our capacity to work remotely.

Mixed messages

Looking at a global scale, Jooble does not share the same concern detailed by the International Labour Organisation, which said that COVID-19 could result in the global unemployment rate reaching 25 percent.

“So far it seems that the media predictions about the unemployment rise have expanded faster than employees are actually losing their jobs,” explained Jooble in a report shared with Hypertext.

“At the same time, what we are undeniably dealing with over the past month is the loss of interest in job searches, which is proven by a more than 50% search drop in the labour market within last 3 weeks,” it adds.

Closer to home things are looking similar, with Jooble noting a direct correlation between the announcement of lockdowns or stay-at-home measures across the globe, and people searching for jobs.

Locally, Jooble noticed that the decrease in job searches began roughly two weeks before the initial 21-day lockdown was announced.

Interestingly, the types of jobs being searched for locally on Jooble has not changed too drastically since the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown, with C# developers still trending at number one on the platform by some margin, peaking at the 40 000 mark both before and after the lockdown announcement.

According to Jooble, this makes quite a lot of sense, given that the C# developer role is one that can be done from home or remotely, which makes it ideally suited for current lockdown conditions.

Geared to work remotely?

The marketplace also highlights something of concern for South Africa, both now and in the future – that the number of searches for remote work or working from home is dropped almost three times in the space of two weeks.

“What makes job seekers in South Africa principally different from other countries analysed in terms of this research, is complete absence of such search requests as ‘online work’ and ‘remote work’ over the last month, comparing to the rapid rise of the latter in other countries,” Jooble explains.

It does not appear as if large pockets of South Africans are adequately prepared for the requirements of working from home, or potentially have not been able to adjust to the recent chaotic changes.

“While in the US for example, people are actively adjusting their skills to the new work pattern and apart from common online teaching, tutoring and freelance, now look for ‘online fashion stylist’ or ‘online personal trainer’ options,” Jooble notes.

“Reports on South Africa haven’t even shown one hundred combination searches containing the word ‘online’,” it adds.

As such, this lockdown has illustrated that the vast majority of South African companies and workers alike, are ill equipped for the future of work or capable of making the switch to working remotely.

[Image – Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash]