The pandemic has scrambled expectations for how quickly shifts in the workplace would take place, and that in turn has left the state scrambling to make sure lower-wage workers, hard hit by the downturn, aren’t left behind as the recovery takes hold.
“Trends we initially thought would take more than 10 years to occur happened in a matter of weeks, requiring workforce, education, training, and the world to quickly adapt and adopt strategies to fit the current reality and new predicted future,” according to the Colorado Workforce Development Council’s 2020 Talent Pipeline Report, which came out on Tuesday.
Colorado had the eighth-highest share of “vulnerable” jobs of any state at 21.4%, with half of those jobs concentrated in the hospitality sector, which includes restaurants, bars and hotels, and a third in retail, the report found. Vulnerable jobs are defined as those that pay low wages and do not provide benefits.
The Colorado Business Economic Outlook from the University of Colorado, out Monday, expects the state will likely end the year down by about 149,000 jobs and that employment counts won’t fully recover until 2023.
“The 2020 Talent Pipeline Report highlights that COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted lower-wage jobs. With a job recovery rate of only 63.4%, now is the time to invest in the strategies discussed in the report to help Coloradans transition to new jobs and industries that will have growth potential in this stage of the pandemic and beyond,” said Lee Wheeler-Berliner, managing director of the CWDC, in an email.
So where has the hiring been happening? Colorado employers posted the most job ads between March and September for the following occupations: heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, registered nurses, software developers and analysts, retail salespersons and stockers and order fillers.
But in four of those five top hiring categories, average monthly postings were down anywhere from 15% to 43% from the same period in 2019. Ads for stockers and order fillers, which rose 26.2% from the same period last year, were the exception. Those workers are in high demand as more retail spending shifts online.
The Talent Pipeline Report comes out annually and has contributed to 50 bills over the years to support talent development in the state. This year, the council recommended the state focus on the themes of stabilize, accelerate and prepare.
Stabilize involves using existing programs and available jobs to help displaced workers earn a wage in the short term. Accelerate involves speeding up the time it takes to get Coloradans back to work through job training, career coaching and support programs. Prepare is about helping workers gain the skills, primarily digital, they will need to succeed as workplace demands shift and automation becomes more prevalent.
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