After COVID-19, the labour market is likely to undergo a period of fluidity and rapid transformation. Changes will arise in the availability of jobs, but also in the nature of work in certain sectors. For example, an increased emphasis on working from home may lead to greater demand for digital skills, while post-lockdown trends may place a premium on customer-service and ‘people’ skills. Some proposals for recovery programmes include efforts to stimulate specific sectors in a local economy (such as those associated with the ‘green’ economy). If the economic challenges of COVID-19 are not to create further inequality, any such developments must be accompanied by effective measures to make sure that jobs and training are widely accessible, in particular to communities whose risk of exclusion has been increased during the pandemic.
New skills demands may emerge rapidly, with a need for agility in the provision of opportunities to learn, and of access to these. Similarly, the flexibility in labour markets offered by sufficient affordable housing will be even more important, especially for people who have suffered hardship during the lockdown period.
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- Economic change arising from COVID-19 will worsen inequalities and must be mitigated by local areas as best they can through inclusive intervention
- Job quality is a core component of more inclusive economies and local authorities can influence job quality in their local economy as major employers, procurers of goods and services, and work-ing in partnership.
- Skills are also a key part, and the most effective skills policy involves linking skills programmes directly to specific work opportunities, and where engagement is proactively encouraged.
- The role of affordable housing is increasingly being considered within the remit of building more inclusive economies—particularly in relation to essential workers who are often paid less well despite their importance.