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COVID-19: Resources for Community & Economic Development

COVID-19 has undoubtedly had, and continues to have, a huge impact on the world. Every aspect of life has been affected, from the economy to health care, personal relationships to politics, culture to the environment.

Countries and organizations have been collecting data about how COVID-19 is affecting all different aspects of life, business, and health. We are starting to see some of the stories that data is telling, but it will probably be a long time before we can truly understand the overall effects of COVID-19 on the world.

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Economy

There are certainly very clear impacts of COVID-19 on economies around the world. Unemployment rates jumped in most countries as the economy came to a screeching halt in March 2020. 

The World Bank says that most countries are at risk of, or already into, a 2020 economic recession as a result of COVID-19. Stock markets around the world dropped significantly in March, however, their numbers have been steadily creeping back up again. 

With so many people being forced to stay home, small businesses have been hit the hardest. The number of businesses closing their doors as a result of COVID-19 already is staggering, in the realm of 10,000+ in Canada alone.

How COVID-19 Has Affected the Workforce

Many Canadians have received temporary layoffs, but many more have been permanently laid off. In addition to layoffs, companies shutting down, and other companies streamlining their operations, there has also been a shift in hiring trends. 

The pandemic has affected how nearly everyone works and lives, but it has disproportionately affected women in the workforce, and other vulnerable populations. A disproportionately high number of jobs lost in Canada have been positions that were filled by women. Studies show that when women enter the workforce, it can improve national GDP by as much as 35 points. For a strong economic recovery it will be critical to get women, and other vulnerable populations, back to work.

While companies have adapted to new ways of operating and structuring, their staffing needs have changed. So while unemployment was spiking, job opportunities dried up temporarily as well.

Job postings are starting to pick up again as companies are discovering what their staffing needs now include. But the types of jobs available are changing. While there has been a gradual shift towards working remotely in the last decade, COVID-19 has made that a reality for many companies. 

Economic Recovery

Communities have had to react and adapt fast to handle the pandemic in their regions. MDB Insight has developed a suite of solutions to help support communities navigating the unknowns of COVID-19. This suite of tools includes BR+E strategy support for your business community, workforce development planning and support to adapt to local industry changes, and ways to connect with and support your community members to help them feel safe, build trust, and actively listen.

In a recent episode of Insight: Canada’s Economic Development Podcast, Natasha Gaudio Harrison discussed many of the challenges facing EDO’s around the world. Episode 4 focused on a discussion of BR+E during the pandemic. Guests from a variety of economic development backgrounds shared their experiences of navigating BR+E and adapting their plans to continue supporting their local communities. 

While communities face the uncertainty of COVID-19 and economic recovery, it might be simple to focus on easily measurable things like dollars and numbers. But to aim for a really strong future, it is important to think about future generations growing up within your community. The youth and children in your region are the future of your community, and strong youth and child development support programs have a huge ROI when those children become adults.

COVID-19 is challenging for all of us. MDB Insight understands what municipalities are going through, and are here to support economic recovery and strategic planning through this pandemic and beyond.

Post-Pandemic Workforce

Rising Stronger: Preparing Canada’s Post-Pandemic Workforce, an online event in May 2020, featured a panel full of thought leaders sharing their expertise, ideas, and identifying the key issues facing Canada’s workforce developers. 

The discussion highlighted the magnitude of COVID-related job losses in Canada, with over 3 million jobs lost just in March and April of 2020. While many of those job losses were temporary, it's unclear when and how many people will be able to go back to work. The level of job losses also disproportionately affects vulnerable populations.

Panelists reiterated that the most in-demand skills for workers are still human skills, like leadership, problem-solving, and communications. With the shift to working from home for many employees, skills like resiliency, adaptability, and digital literacy have also become very important. Technical skills are in high demand, but they vary by specific industry. 

The Rising Stronger event was recorded and is available for review.

The future of workforce development is changing as a result of the pandemic. It’s clear that recovering from COVID-19 is going to be a fairly long process. The ways in which you support local employers and your local workforce are going to need to adapt to changes in hiring processes, new ways of working, professional development, and company cultures. 

It will be critical that organizations find ways to support collaboration, learning, and team engagement to ensure that all workers (remote or on-site) have the skills, coaching, and tools they need to do their jobs efficiently. 

It will also be critical for job seekers to have an eagerness to learn, adaptability and resilience to thrive in new environments.

Supporting Small Businesses

Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. Many have been struggling with adapting their business to an online market or having to shut their doors temporarily, or even permanently. Supporting small business owners in your community has and will continue to be one of the most important tasks for EDOs planning their economic recovery. 

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the way the worldwide business community operates. Economic development officers are supporting small businesses and building digital networking opportunities for strong economic recovery.

Dealing with COVID-19, or any global health crisis, requires adaptability and resilience. In order to support their communities, leaders have had to react fast to adjust and implement disaster response plans, refocus BR+E strategies, adjust workforce development programs, and safely connect with citizens. 

Strengthen Your COVID-19 Response with our Suite of Solutions

Download A Tailored Suite  of Economic Recovery Solutions for Communities

References: 

https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2020/06/08/the-global-economic-outlook-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-a-changed-world

https://financialpost.com/news/economy/wave-of-business-closures-to-hit-canada-despite-government-help

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