What will tomorrow’s workforce look like 5, 10 or even 20 years from now?
That was the question that was burning in the minds of participants of the Reimagining Today’s Workforce Series’ The Current and Future State of Arizona’s Workforce seminar, presented by the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation and Alliance Bank of Arizona.
Trevor Stokes, CEO of Partnership for Workforce Innovation, discussed the latest findings from the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s Annual Workforce Study and provided holistic insights into the latest comprehensive labor market data, the impact of COVID-19, and the future of Arizona’s workforce.
With Arizona’s workforce fluctuating significantly over the past few months with unemployment decreasing from 10.7% in July down to 5.9% in August, the study delivered thoughtful observations into the most negatively impacted careers, along with those that are experiencing significant growth.
These numbers also ushered in three interesting trends brought on by COVID-19, which have significantly changed the world of work. Among them:
- Lateral and Diagonal Moves on the Career Lattice: Many of the workers who faced unemployment will change their career pathways, either transitioning into an entirely new careers or careers that align with their existing skillset.
- Retirements and Other Exits Impacting the Workforce: Involuntary retirement has increased since March 2020 and is expected to increase old-age poverty.
- Moves Toward Virtual Workspace: Remote workforces are going to be a bigger part of business operations than ever before due to cost savings, and myriad other factors that make remote structures more appealing, including reduced concerns around security and productivity, no requirements to provide adequate health and safety precautions on-site, and decreased fear of litigation from infected workers.
The report also revealed key trends to watch in the coming post-pandemic era, including anticipation that Arizona’s manufacturing sector is poised for even more dynamic growth through expansions, relocations and general demand. In the same vein, a marked shift is occurring in education as career and technical education (CTE) programs continue to boast robust graduation rates and outcomes compared to declines seen in total number of degrees and certificates awarded from Arizona’s universities and colleges.
Stokes revealed other key insights from the report, including:
- While the pandemic’s effects deeply impacted the Valley’s labor market, innovation and sense of community that the region is known for, rose to the forefront as some businesses expanded their presence, while others made plans for post-pandemic growth.
- Despite unemployment dipped by more than 325,000 jobs early in the pandemic, jobs continue to recover at a steady pace.
- In terms of unemployment benefits, one-in-seven workers (15%) in the accommodation and food services industry and one-in-eight workers (12%) in healthcare and social assistance filed an unemployment claim during the first eight months of 2020. While the latter was especially surprising given the demand COVID placed on many hospitals and health care facilities, unemployment was driven by furloughs and the pause of elective treatments affecting front-line workers in roles like phlebotomist and dental assistant.
- Around 40% of the businesses that participated in the survey were required to shut down at least a part of their business in response to the pandemic. More than 60% were forced to close or limit parts of the business because of pandemic-related changes in demand for products or services.
- Employers’ responses revealed that 88% had implemented or expanded work-from-home opportunities.
- Arizona’s fastest-growing occupations include home health care aids (74% growth), personal care aides (67% growth) and medical assistants (49% growth) between 2018 and 2028. Similarly, construction in the Greater Phoenix region has grown by 4% in the last year, led by gains in the industry’s largest subsector, specialty trades contractors. Rounding out the top three industries is manufacturing, which employs more than 36,000 people in the Greater Phoenix region, and has grown by 1.5% in the last year, led by gains in the medical equipment and supplies and aerospace specialties.
- In terms of skills, employers are placing immense priority on personal and interpersonal competencies, especially communications.
To see the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce presentation click here
Access the full 2020 State of the Workforce report click here