It's a bit of an understatement to say 2020 has been a rollercoaster year. Times have been tough, particularly in our working lives and the wider economy, as we get to grips with the global pandemic.

While some businesses have suffered, other companies have flourished as we bounce back from lockdown. In a much-changed world, what do employers and employees need to consider in the job market?

Lyndall Clarke, national manager, workforce development at Competenz, one of New Zealand's leading industry training organizations, talks through eight things businesses and employers should think about in 2020:

Reframe your worldview

The job market is highly unlikely to return to its pre-Covid "normal", so it's important for people to have transferable skills.

"We're moving to a new world," Clarke says. "It's not just about developing technical skills but also soft skills, and developing capabilities across the workforce," she adds.

Lyndall Clarke is national manager of workforce development at Competenz, one of New Zealand’s leading industry training organisations.
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Lyndall Clarke is national manager of workforce development at Competenz, one of New Zealand’s leading industry training organisations.

Build management skills in your business

Developing your staff can be more cost-effective than hiring external experts. Companies can train employees with the skills needed to take on senior roles, making staff more motivated along the way.

"Give your employees the tools to develop as a leader, and set both of you up for future success," Clarke adds. "Problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication are some of the key things people look for in leaders. Training can really help build those skills."

Create a plan that evolves with your business

Companies need to map out a business plan and consider the skills needed as their industry evolves.

"You need to be able to set goals and take a realistic view of where you'd like to be in the next five to ten years," Clarke says. "The workforce we had 20 years ago has changed, and it will again in the future."

"You might need to fill the skill set gaps in your business, Clarke adds. "Layout your strategy as a team. Audit your current skill sets, and identify areas where you have capability deficits. Organizations like Competenz can conduct free consultations in your business."

The job market is highly unlikely to return to its pre-Covid “normal”, so it’s important for people to have transferable skills.
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The job market is highly unlikely to return to its pre-Covid “normal”, so it’s important for people to have transferable skills.

See if you can train staff on the job

Often, there's no need for companies to send employees away for lengthy training courses. Businesses can upskill their staff as they work, or in their downtime.

"Companies can train people on the job. Training benefits your best resource, your people," Clarke adds.

Know that training doesn't have to cost money

A growing number of qualifications across different sectors are now paid for by the government, meaning companies can benefit from training without incurring any costs.

Clarke says companies "in just about any industry" can access free training courses in NZ: "For example, the NZ Certificate in Manufacturing Level 2 and 3, Food Processing, Level 2 and 3 and all apprenticeships, are free at the moment."

Be flexible in the post-Covid workforce

The job market has changed, so workers need to develop their CV and build transferable skills for extra security.

"Employers will be looking for people who can demonstrate they are agile and flexible in their approach," Clark says.

See training as an investment

Like any time or money that goes into your business, training is an investment. Subsequently, you will get a return on that investment in time.

"When weighing up your training needs, remember that when you invest in people, you get a return," Clarke adds.

"While some business owners may view training as a disruption, and employees may not want to leave their place of work, it can sometimes be good for people to step back and take time out from the day job."

Developing your staff can be more cost effective than hiring external experts.
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Developing your staff can be more cost effective than hiring external experts.

Create a sustainable workforce

In the post-Covid era, Kiwi companies need workers to deal with today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities.

Clarke adds: "A genuinely sustainable workforce can meet today's needs and those for the future. People need the ability to upskill and cross-skill across their business.

"Workers need to be capable of moving forward and developing others. Creating a culture of learning in your business is critical."