For nearly a decade, economists and researchers alike have both warned that the future of work coming into the 2020s would look very different than it did in the early 2000s. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, careers that once offered stability, pensions, and advancement opportunities went the way of dial-up internet and print newspapers.
What happens to all of those displaced workers? Those employees with decades of experience but seemingly little to no modern workforce skills. Or, employees who are new to the workforce entirely because they just graduated from college or high school. Millions of people who suffered from career displacement after the 2008 economic downturn never financially recovered, but were still actively part of the workforce in the United States. Doesn’t the workforce need their expertise, too?
The short answer: yes. Post-pandemic, hospitality and retail may never be the same. But those displaced workers, especially those without a formal four-year education, still have valuable skills that the economy desperately needs in order to get back on its feet. Why hasn’t the corporate workforce learned to validate skills that may not exactly match the requirements its looking for? Because applicant tracking systems have made the requirements for jobs so specific that even someone who is wholly capable of performing a role may not even be considered.
Transferable skills, like those mastered in hospitality roles - customer service, communication, and problem-solving - are all essential skills for a role in human resources, for example. According to research by Emsi, a sample of 6,813 hospitality and food services workers, 138 (2.0%) jumped to human resources roles. In a more detailed analysis of those social profiles and resumes, those job seekers successfully navigated their transitions by adding complementary skills such as talent sourcing and payroll and benefits administration to the skills they already acquired elsewhere.
According to the New York Times, past downturns have brought increased government aid for workers and training programs. But labor experts say they have tended to be policies that recede once the economy recovers, as happened after the 2008 financial crisis, rather than becoming national priorities.
In order to get millions of unemployed Americans back to work, employers must learn to validate skills in addition to prior work experience. In order to gain visibility into higher-paying roles, job applicants must invest in career-ready training courses in order to prepare for the next leg of their careers. With over 700,000 credentials available to learners, many of which are validated through Credly’s digital credentialing platform, both job seekers and employers alike will have a database of achievements that will help propel the economy forward.