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Ormond Beach Observer Friday, Aug. 14, 2020 3 months ago

'New world. New skills': CareerSource Flagler Volusia CEO says digitizing is key to building back the economy

Remote work and flexibility could be paramount to attracting future employees
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

As of the end of July, about 53,000 people in Volusia County have filed for unemployment this year, with over 1,000 more filing weekly, said Robin King, president and CEO of CareerSource Flagler Volusia during a Zoom into Eggs and Issues virtual event on Thursday, Aug. 13.

“This number is important to me because a percentage of them will become the new talent pipeline," King said.

The pandemic's impact on the workforce was one of the topics targeted during the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce morning event. While King said it's too early to talk about potential consequences of the changes to the workforce as situations remain fluid due to the coronavirus, she said it is clear there has been a great impact to the global economy. 

And with that have come big changes in the workplace, with employers and employees needing to adapt quickly to new working conditions — specifically an enhanced focus on remote work and the need to digitize companies — as well as developing new working behaviors. 

“I was speaking to a local financial advisor last week who used the words: ‘Tossed out of the office to work from home,"' King said.

Every industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the hospitality and food service industries taking the hardest hits. On the other side of the spectrum, manufacturing, construction and educational services have been the least hit industries during the ongoing health crisis.

In addition, King said some industries are booming. She cited a Florida Trend article that reported the cyber security industry continues to hire employees, and that communication platforms are emerging during the pandemic. Take Zoom, for example, the very medium through which the Eggs and Issues event was held.

When speaking about trends in the workforce during the pandemic, King cited statistics from an April Gallup poll, which states the percentage of employers who offered a flexible work schedule or remote work options grew from 39% in mid-March to 57% by the end of that month and early April. 

The poll also states that 62% of Americans worked from home during that time, and, that three in five workers would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible once health restrictions were lifted. 

“Those who say that all their staff are going to be coming back within the next year might have to take a look at how they’re going to attract the future workforce," King said.

The overarching theme, King said, of the new needs of the workplace is, "New world. New skills." With the rapid ongoing changes, hiring professionals will need to seek remote workers with self-motivation, independence and adaptability.

“All those were important skills before—they become critical," she said.

While digitizing businesses is the first key to building back the economy, King said the second key is investing in the wellbeing and needs of the workforce. 

“That is the key to our economic recovery," King said.

The event also featured School Board Member Linda Cuthbert and Interim Volusia County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carmen Balgobin, who gave an overview on school reopening measures. 

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