EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK PRIOR to COVID-19
At the beginning of this year, we heard from several final year university students who were planning their job search strategies in the hope of securing a job after graduating in June. Their concerns prompted the Centre to conduct a rapid analysis of the job market for the first quarter of 2020. view Our brief examination provides some insights on employment opportunities for old and new job seekers in Belize, especially in the context of COVID-19.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has impacted the global market immensely. And as such, job markets worldwide have been exposed to some rapid changes to accommodate this shift. Belize is no exception and there are notable changes in the job market as are reflected in this brief study.
Our analysis is based on data from the Amandala newspaper for the period of January 2020 to March 2020. We recorded, disaggregated and examined the job notices posted in this national newspaper to understand who the employers were, where the jobs were located geographically, the preferred qualifications and the sectors with the greatest demand. .
Where are the jobs?
Overall, the highest number of job advertisements was seen in Belize City at 44.8% and the lowest was seen in San Pedro at 0.28%. Our analysis shows that in the first quarter of 2020 there was a steady decrease in jobs advertised month per month, from 44% in January, to 33.5% in February and 22.6% in March 2020. Most of the jobs were advertised in January, prior to the global recognition of COVID-19 in March 2020.
From our analysis, we see that 25.3% and 22.2% (majority) of total job advertisements respectively were in Education and these jobs reflected 100% of public sector jobs while jobs in Services reflected 71.9% of private sector advertisements. We also noted a decrease in job postings for both the private and public sectors. The private sector may have been more cautious about hiring once COVID-19 was detected in the country and this contrasts with the public sector which was more inclined to stem the flow of job losses. Indeed, the government provided relief packages which has led to a simultaneous decrease in revenue and an increase in spending to ameliorate the financial shock to Belize’s economy. The extent of this package includes food assistance to approximately 24,000 families, and an approved total of 43, 726 applications for unemployment relief payments to those who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 (GOB Press Office).
Which qualifications are needed?
In terms of academic achievements, most jobs or approximately 80% of those advertised expected the applicants to have a bachelor’s degree. In the Education sector, the majority of the jobs available were for full-time positions, but it is also notable that of the 65 jobs within this sector, 29 were for temporary positions. With the current adjustments to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the thrust of the global job markets, a possible outlook within this sector could be an increase in the demand for teachers who are not only professionally trained, but for those who are also technologically skilled and quick to adopt its use in the classroom.
In the Service industry, where there is a mix of private and public sector jobs, 18.2% of total job advertisements were for contract workers. Here, the jobs posted required both technical skills and expertise from applicants. In this quarter only 5.1% of total job advertisements were for jobs in the Tourism industry. While this industry tends to host a majority of uncredentialed labour, innovation is likely possible in this area, since those workers made redundant may now rely on the managed use of the natural resources in the country. Services could be the sector most amenable to expansion, innovation, and technological progress, especially in the context of COVID-19.
COVID-19 has impacted the job market in Belize. Yet, prior to the arrival of this disease, job advertisement for the first three months of 2020 were already showing a steady decrease.
The potential for a second wave infers the need for innovation in the job market. During this time, the country is presented with room for a potential increase in the demand for individuals who work remotely from an online platform, essential workers, and general workers who are able to find creative means to conduct business.
Do you have an innovative employment idea? Send us an email at: email@example.com
Contributors: Trina Palacio is currently completing a Bachelor in Economics with minors in Social Development Policy and Planning and Gender Development Studies at the University of the West Indies – St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad. She is a past president of the Belize Students Association of Trinidad and Tobago, and currently serves as the Belize Representative to the Commonwealth Students Association.
Jamir Sanchez is a December 2018 Cum Laude graduate from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, USA with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Financial Economics. He is a Research Assistant at the Centre for Applied Development Studies.