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Continuous learning opportunities viewed as top priority by emerging workforce, survey finds

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Continuous learning opportunities

There are a myriad of significant changes that have occurred since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the world, schools closed, unemployment increased, economies collapsed, startups and medium sized enterprises across all industries have taken a significant hit to their revenue streams.

But what is known about the pandemic’s impact on those still employed?

To better understand consumers’ plans and motivations, the Institute for Business Value (IBV), IBM’s Business Consulting branch focused on Research and Innovation, surveyed more than 14,000 adults in January 2021 across nine countries including: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The survey revealed that one in four people plan to switch employment; what is also staggering is the fact that most employees who have voluntarily shifted careers in 2020, are actively looking for new opportunities again today.

This begs the question, how did the pandemic cause voluntary job changes to be the top of mind for the global workforce?

According to the survey, more than half the people who voluntarily jumped jobs in 2020 are part of generation Z (ages 18-24) standing at 33 percent, and millennials (ages 25-39) amounted to 25 percent.

Plausible considering the flexibility of conducting interviews from home while exploring continuous learning opportunities to make a career-shift.

It is worth mentioning that company ethics and values are considered as top priority for the younger workforce, as 40 percent of surveyed consumers saw it vital that these employer qualities to be present for proper engagement; in parallel, 36 percent of respondents valued continuous learning opportunities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed employees’ expectations of their employers, and leaders should take a more empathetic and personalized approach to attracting and retaining talent, especially for Gen Z and Millennial candidates and employees who may be more likely to make voluntary employer or occupation changes,” said Amy Wright, managing partner, IBM Talent & Transformation.

Wright also highlighted that those attributes could include developing tailored learning plans and career paths for employees, fostering inclusive and flexible cultures and removing bias in hiring with the help of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).

Working from home not only helped employees realize the importance of maintaining a work-life balance, but also gave them a clear insight on how far they’ve reached in their careers, leaving them striving for more advancement opportunities.

The IBY survey reported that 25 percent of consumers indicated their reskilling or upskilling goals for 2021 included enrollment in a formal degree, certification, or badging program. More than one in four Gen Z respondents say they will pursue an apprentice opportunity, which was the largest percentage compared to other generation groups surveyed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, combined with rapid technological developments, is profoundly changing the workplace,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM Vice President and Global Head of Corporate Social Responsibility. She also adds “at the same time, businesses are increasingly seeking to build strong and diverse talent pipelines.”

Laborers have become open to the idea of continuous learning, despite the rising confidence of already having the necessary skills to meet their goals in 2021.

IBM grabbed this opportunity of noticeable change in behavior and put together a free, online learning platform, SkillsBuild, to help individuals form and expand skills for the future.

The platform is specifically designed to empower job seekers and other professionals with workplace readiness and technical skills. Even though it is currently only available in the United States, SkillsBuild offers their wide portfolio of courses in different languages including English, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish.

SkillsBuilds allows their subscribers to use personal coaching tools, complete portfolio-building projects, and earn credentials to showcase their learnings to potential employers.

By accessing this platform, it allows users to conduct a self-assessment, helping them find a learning path that fits their skill set and interests.

Courses cover areas such as data analysis, customer service, cybersecurity, and presentation skills amongst other things.

The search for new opportunities has created a chance for individuals to upscale and continue learning; this shift has highlighted the importance of continuous learning.

Knowledge and education never end.

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Consumer confidence hitting record high, but with hangovers left from pandemic

TK Maloy

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Consumer confidence

Global consumer confidence soared to record heights in the first quarter of 2021, according to The Conference Board: Global Consumer Confidence Survey, as vaccination campaigns broadened, travel restrictions loosened, and governments and central banks continued to provide robust economic stimulus.

These factors are contributing to various geographic regions returning to a “state of normalcy sooner” including increased spending across the spectrum, but some economic hangovers persist from the global pandemic crisis.

The Conference Board is a member-driven think tank that has delivered economic insights since 1916. It released this recent global consumer confidence survey on Wednesday. Their methodology for what is comparably a business cycle index is based on a point system where a figure above 100 is considered positive, or below 100 representing decline. This survey also employs opinion polling which is expressed as percentages.

“The lightening of consumer moods globally bodes well for spending throughout the remainder of the year as economies continue to emerge from the 2020 pandemic-induced economic downturn and work toward arresting the spread of the virus,” said Dana Peterson, Chief Economist of The Conference Board.

“Nonetheless, the global economic recovery – and, consequently, consumer sentiment – is likely to continue to vary notably from region to region. Economies with greater access to vaccines are likely to achieve herd immunity, and thus will return to a state of normalcy sooner,” Peterson added.

The survey found that overall global consumer confidence shot up from 98 in the fourth quarter of 2020 to 108 points in the first quarter of 2021. That figure exceeded the reading of 106 registered in pre-pandemic 2020 Q1. Reminder, a figure above 100 is considered positive and the 108-point score is the highest recorded since the survey began in 2005.

Confidence rose in 49 of 65 markets surveyed, as economic activity resumed, COVID-19 cases peaked in many economies, and vaccine development and distribution expanded.

The vaccines contributed to that revival, so individual economies’ level of access to them will greatly affect the timing of their recoveries and boosts in consumer confidence. (For 2020 Q4 indexes, results exclude China due to data collection constraints.)

Confidence still varied across regions: Latin America (up 13 points, from 86 to 99) and Europe (up 11 points, from 76 to 87) enjoyed the biggest gains in consumer confidence. But both regions started from low bases, and Europe remains the least confident region. North America, by contrast, slipped six points, from 116 to 110, while Africa and the Middle East dropped from 101 to 97.

Growing confidence in personal finances, especially, propelled the stronger global sentiment: Consumers were significantly more optimistic about their finances in Q1 2021, with the gap between positive and negative responses standing at +29 percentage points, up substantially from +15 percentage points in Q4 2020.

Of the three key drivers of global confidence, personal finances made the largest impact, although the other two drivers also trended upward: Sentiment about job prospects were up overall around the globe and spending intentions flipped from negative (-7 ppts) in Q4 2020 to positive (+6 ppts) in Q1 2021.

Consumers are gearing up for a return to normalcy: Consumers spent more on entertainment outside of the home, clothing, and vacations. Taken together, these trends indicate that consumers are increasingly looking forward to returning to normal activities at some point this year.

Given that consumption levels significantly contribute to growth in many mature economies, such activity in anticipation of greater freedom later on supports The Conference Board’s upwardly revised projection of 5 percent real GDP growth globally this year.

However, around the world, consumers also ramped up their protective savings: 57 percent of global consumers indicated that they are putting money into savings, an increase of 9 ppts from the previous quarter. Their efforts to economize primarily reflected savings on hospitality and entertainment services.

Consumers planned to eliminate annual vacations, delay upgrading technology, and cut meals away from home. They also switched to cheaper grocery brands and drove their cars less.

The scars of the recession lingered, with health and economic concerns still looming large.

The world is not quite buzzing yet.

A strong majority of consumers (64 percent) said that their market was still in recession during the first quarter of 2021. While that figure dropped sharply from the end of 2020 (down 17 percentage points, from 81 percent) recession concerns remained elevated.

Globally, only 41 percent of consumers expected that their economy would be out of recession in 12 months, virtually unchanged from the previous quarter.

Consumers’ worries about their own health (22 percent) and economic performance (20 percent) dominated their top concerns. This trend will likely hold through mid-2021 given the continued crisis, and the time it will take to arrest the coronavirus and establish herd immunity.

“With uncertainty around jobs and health prompting consumers to continue economizing, it seems clear that GDP returning to pre-pandemic levels will not in itself mark a return to the old normal,” said board chief economist Peterson. “Healing in labor markets may take longer, with greater potential for scarring among industries that are vulnerable to automation and digital transformation.”

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Unbound by geography, CFOs look to capitalize on global talent pool

Inside Telecom Staff

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global talent pool

A large majority of CFOs around the world are planning to expand operations into new countries in 2021 to achieve their long-term growth strategies, according to a recent survey by CFO Research and Globalization Partners.

The survey also uncovered changing perceptions about hiring and remote work because of their pandemic experiences, with respondents saying they want to attract from the global talent pool that is unbound by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.

The February 2021 survey of chief financial officers, chief executive officers and other senior finance executives also cites a common theme that they are prioritizing the need to build resiliency and although optimistic, disclose that their businesses are still stabilizing and in recovery.

Optimism towards organizational performance in 2021 varies across the regions. Asia-Pacific (APAC) CFOs are more optimistic about success in 2021 than their counterparts in the UK and North America. Since 65 percent of APAC respondents indicated that they expect to exceed goals and expectations in 2021, compared to 46 percent for UK and 47 percent for North America.

“The ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, investments flowing into the region, and momentum gained as companies accelerated their digital investments during the pandemic – all these are contributing to positive sentiments toward business in 2021,” said Charles Ferguson, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Globalization Partners. “With the ongoing shift in the global supply chain and a renewed focus of the US, UK and EU to grow alliances with APAC markets, there is an abundance of opportunity to expect from this region.”

CFOs’ global view within their hiring approaches

When asked to describe their hiring strategy over the next 12 to 18 months as, 48 percent of APAC respondents say they will attract new talent where they are based while 43 percent say they want to attract new talent that is unbounded by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.

APAC CFOs have a high degree of interest in tapping into a more cost-effective, global talent pool—a concept favored by half of those surveyed –and capturing market share through global expansion, which is favored by 61 percent.

CFOs’ altered workforce management strategies

Seventy-four percent of the survey respondents in APAC anticipate operating remote and/or hybrid workforce models in the next 12 to 18 months.

Eighty-three percent of executives also say the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way they think about hiring and workforce management and 89 percent say it altered how they consider remote employees or the work-from-anywhere model.

In parallel, CFOs are deeming global expansion as a top priority in the next 12 to 18 months.

“Implementing a strategy for global expansion and presence” was deemed a top priority in the next 12 to 18 months for 52 percent of APAC executives, compared to 38 percent of the EMEA executives and 36 percent of the North American executives.

With that in mind, 55 percent of the APAC CFOs that are expecting to achieve their goals in 2021 are already engaging a global (Professional Employer Organization) PEO, while 25 percent plan to use a global PEO within one year to support their international business strategy and 17 percent plan to engage a global PEO within three years.

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Drivers wanted: Record demand at Uber as vaccinations rise

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Drivers wanted Record demand at Uber as vaccinations rise

Uber is offering sign-up bonuses and other incentives for drivers as it faces record demand for rides and meal delivery.

The San Francisco ride-hailing company said Monday that total monthly bookings, including food delivery and passenger service, reached an all-time high in March.

In a government filing, the company said demand for ride-hailing, which plunged during coronavirus lockdowns last year, has recovered more quickly than expected as daily COVID-19 vaccinations exceed 3 million per day in the U.S.

Some people are still avoiding public transportation out of infection fears, potentially boosting demand for services like Uber and Lyft further.

Passenger bookings last month reached the highest level since last March, when spiking infection rates began to shut the country down. Bookings last month hit an annual run rate of $30 billion. Last year, Uber’s passenger business recorded $26.4 billion in gross bookings.

Food delivery, of course, has surged over the past year and in March Uber Eats deliveries hit an all-time high. With more regions opening restaurants to at least partial capacity, that could be a positive sign for Uber as it could signal that some habits acquired during the pandemic may stick.

Food delivery jumped 150% from last March to an annualized run rate of $52 billion, the company said.

Last week, Uber announced $250 million in sign-up bonuses and other perks to lure more drivers. Many drivers gave up last year when demand dried up, the company said. But demand now exceeds the supply of Uber drivers on call, the company said.

In another perk, Uber has partnered with Walgreens to make it easier for drivers to get vaccinated.

Driving professionally, however, may still be considered too risky by some. Last month, a woman was arrested on suspicion of pepper-spraying an Uber driver in San Francisco who was coughed at and insulted after he demanded a passenger wear a mask.

Drivers may still be holding out to see if Uber will sweeten pay and benefits. Uber was forced to classify its drivers in the United Kingdom as workers last month — not self-employed — after a Supreme Court ruling there.

The company said Monday it has begun a historical claims settlement for its U.K. drivers.

Shares of Uber Technologies Inc. rose nearly 5% to $60.40 Monday.


By DEE-ANN DURBIN

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