How the second wave of COVID-19 worsened 'shecession'

women workforce
The plight of India's working women has worsened after the second COVID-19 wave. Image courtesy: IANS

New Delhi: As the aftermath of the pandemic's second wave, Indian professionals -- particularly Gen Z and working women -- are increasingly becoming vulnerable to the economic uncertainty in today's evolving job market, reveals a report.

LinkedIn, an online professional network, announced findings of its latest edition of the Workforce Confidence Index based on the survey responses of 1,891 professionals from May 8 to June 4.

The report shows that India's overall workforce confidence has declined after peaking in early March, with a composite score of +54 today (down 4 points from +58 in March). This dip in confidence is reflected strongly across professionals from creative industries such as Entertainment, Design, and Media and Communication, who expressed being uncertain about the future of their employers.

But as several parts of the economy gradually reopen, professionals from Software and IT and Hardware and Networking are growing increasingly confident about the future of their organizations.

Commenting on the findings, Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn said, "As India slowly begins to come out of the second wave of COVID-19 cases, we see the year-over-year hiring rate recover from a low of 10 per cent in April to 35 per cent at the end of May. Despite this modest revival, confidence levels of working women and young professionals are amongst the lowest in the workforce today. Twice as many working women are concerned with job availability compared to working men, and 30 percent of Gen Z professionals worry due to lack of jobs. Remote jobs can be the ray of hope, to provide the much-needed flexibility and growth in opportunities to help them bounce back into the workforce."

Second wave worsens 'shecession'; twice as many working women worried about availability of jobs, time for job-seeking compared to working men

The plight of India's working women has worsened after the second COVID-19 wave, as the individual confidence index (ICI) scores of female professionals fell from +57 in March to +49 in early June -- a 4x decline compared to working men (+58 in March to +56 in June). Decoding India's evident 'shecession', findings show that India's working women are ~2x more likely to be worried about the availability of jobs, their professional network, and time devoted to job seeking, than working men today. This uneven impact has also bruised the financial stability of working women as 1 in 4 (23 per cent) female professionals are concerned about growing expenses or debt, in contrast with just 1 in 10 (13 per cent ) working men.

30 per cent Gen Z professionals troubled due to lack of jobs, compared to 18 per cent Baby Boomers

The pandemic's recent peak in India has amplified the importance of work experience and professional connections, as young Indians were found twice (2.5x) as worried as their older cohorts, about the impact of COVID-19 on their careers. Nearly 30 per cent of Gen Z professionals and 26 per cent of millennials are troubled due to lack of jobs, in comparison to 18 percent of Baby Boomers. The uncertainty widens when it comes to finances as 1 in 4 Gen Z (23 per cent) and millennials (24 per cent) report being more worried about their debt or expenses, when compared to just half as many Boomers (13 per cent) in India today.

As per LinkedIn Labour Market Update, LinkedIn platform data suggests that the average time for fresh graduates to find a new job has also increased by 43 percent (from 2 to 2.8 months) in 2020 compared to pre COVID-19 times in 2019. But while the conversion time has increased, so have remote opportunities, as LinkedIn platform data further suggests that the proportion of entry level jobs labelled as 'remote' posted between Jan-March 2020 have increased by 9x between 2020 and 2021.

'Flexibility' and 'work life balance' become as important as 'salary' and 'benefits' today

As India continues to navigate the ongoing health and economic crisis, 'self-care' appears to have become a greater priority for job seekers in the current environment. While 1 in 2 job-seekers value employee benefits (55 percent) and salary (53 percent) more post COVID-19, an equal number of job-seekers are found prioritizing work-life balance (48 per cent) and location flexibility (50 per cent) when looking for a job today.

This growing demand for flexibility comes at a time when remote opportunities continue to grow. According to the recent Labour Market Update, remote job postings that increased by 35x across 2020, grew further by almost 3x year-on-year as of May 2021.

Aspirants also seek a sense of belonging and long-term growth within their new organizations as 2 in 5 job seekers prioritize workplace culture (43 per cent), internal movement and promotions (44 per cent), and a visible commitment to diversity and inclusion (42 per cent) from their potential employers.

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