The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the global economy, especially affecting those in the middle and lower income groups.
The UN’s International Labour Organisation predicts that 1.6 billion informal economy workers will suffer “massive damage” to their livelihoods. And in the second quarter, it may affect up to 305 million full-time jobs.
Things are so bad that, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the country is currently facing its worst unemployment rate in a decade at 3.9%.
Not surprisingly, some industries are bearing the brunt. The aviation industry was the first to be heavily impacted – flights were cancelled all over the world, which left airports empty and affected airline revenues and those of airport operators.
Because no one is travelling, the travel and hospitality industry is also seeing the worst bout of lay-offs ever.
The moment travel bans were issued, many employees in these sectors lost their jobs. Tourism accounts for 10% of the world’s gross domestic product and jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Covid-19 has also left the entertainment industry reeling. The film industry is vulnerable as both the production and consumption of its output require large groups of people to gather in small spaces.
The global entertainment industry includes amusement parks, theatrical productions, sporting and live events and trade shows. The pandemic has obviously affected revenues as well as the employees in these sectors that rely on large crowds.
The oil and gas industry has also seen a drop in demand as much of the world was locked down, causing oil prices to fall.
To paint a clearer picture of how dire the situation is, Malaysia’s exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are set to drop to their lowest since mid-2018 according to shipping sources. That means oil companies may be unable to sustain their employees.
But all is not lost. While certain sectors are in the doldrums, some are seeing huge demand.
Things have never been as good for e-commerce as they are now. Malaysians, unable to go to the shops during the Movement Control Order (MCO), have turn to shopping online.
Stuck at home, people also began to explore new hobbies, another boon for the e-commerce industry.
Reaping the benefits of the boom in e-commerce are the logistics and delivery sectors. Whether it is in food delivery or courier services, there are now more job opportunities.
Foodpanda and Grab are among the companies that have increased their revenues in tandem with growing demand for deliveries since the MCO came into force on March 18.
In technology, virtual reality (VR) is thriving. The education sector is using VR for virtual tours of schools and universities to accommodate student queries. Not being able to leave home does not mean being unable to check out one’s dream school.
The pharmaceutical industry is also thriving. Which makes sense, given the growing demand for drugs and the focus on developing a vaccine against Covid-19.
In fact, most healthcare-related sectors are doing well. The health insurance industry is seeing increased demand as more people seek financial stability in unpredictable times.
And medical institutions are busier than ever. For medical frontliners, their jobs are emotionally and physically exhausting as the number of Covid-19 cases has skyrocketed since the virus was first detected in December last year. The need for more frontliners means that medical institutions are hiring.
The chances of employment for graduates in the medical field are especially high with educational institutions that have their own medical centres.
Ramsay Sime Darby Healthcare College is associated with several hospitals, providing students the opportunity to gain real-life job experience, training and job offers after graduation.
There is no sure way to predict how the economy will recover from the Covid-19 pandemic or when the recovery will happen. What is clear is that society will have to adjust, and people must hope for the best.
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