The Career Center at Santa Barbara City College (sbcc.edu/careercenter) offers career development resources to help students make decisions about their career and life path and acts as an expert on jobs. We asked the center’s student program advisor, Janna Mori, about what’s happening in today’s job market.
What job trends have you seen develop as a result of the pandemic? The local employers that are reaching out the most right now are those related to hospitality (hotel and restaurant) and health care. Some are even offering sign-on and referral bonuses. Preschool and public schools, retail, and office help are other areas that have let us know they have immediate needs.
With the county and state reopening, it’s even more of a scramble for some employers to find the help they need. In normal times, some of these sectors already have challenges to fill openings. I expect things will eventually return to more normal levels.
How is the Career Center preparing students for work-from-home jobs? Through the online learning environment, students have been receiving some great preparation for working remotely, including learning new, or becoming proficient at, technical skills and improving communicating in a remote environment. They have been stretched to become more resilient and flexible just by showing up and being present for class when processes and expectations have been constantly changing.
I don’t anticipate our program to change much, since what we normally provide lends itself to be successful in shifting economies. If anything, we need to be good listeners because each student has their own pandemic story. When we learn of a student’s need, we can readily tailor our conversations and strategies for that student. The same goes for a subset of students, or the entire student population.
Despite the state’s decreasing unemployment rate, joblessness has continued as many have stopped looking for work. What’s keeping people out of the workforce? I think there are a myriad of reasons that some people might not be rushing back to work. Parents can be reluctant to commit to a job until they know their children can be cared for or attend school. Also, individuals whose lives have been interrupted by a job loss or furlough may have taken the time to assess what they want to return to (and not go back to!). Some may be waiting to assess what the workforce will settle into and how it will work for them in terms of responsibilities, compensation, working from home, and whether there is a need to gain new skills.
Vaccination and mask policies may play a role, too. Workers want to feel safe when returning to the workplace.
Anecdotally, I know some people who burned out under the stress of working in the COVID-19 environment and are taking necessary time off to recover. Lastly, I have a sense that with so many interruptions, people might be reluctant to take the first thing that comes along and, if they can, would rather wait for stable and meaningful employment that meets their economic needs.