Written by Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Now may be a good time to take steps to advance your career or grow your business.
With millions out of work and traditional jobs disrupted by the pandemic, there are new jobs and skills in demand, which Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso explore with former U.S. Department of Labor official Jane Oates on this week's WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank.
Oates served as assistant secretary for the Employment and Training Administration from 2009 to 2013 and was executive director for the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Senior Advisor to former Gov. Jon Corzine from 2006-2009.
She is currently the president of WorkingNation - a non-profit that examines the changing workforce and offers solutions for adapting to challenges such as those brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
"You have to know what your skills are. It's no longer just doing job title to job title," she explained.
Oates told WCBS 880 those out of work and/or looking to change careers should try to use their existing skills that can apply to parallel industries that may value them more.
"So, can I go from being, you know, a banker to a middle school math teacher? It's not going to be a straight line. It's going to be a rich pathway that has lots of circles," she said, adding, "So, you have to make sure you can articulate to yourself and others what your skills are."
The former Boston and Philadelphia public school teacher added some may have acquired job skills in their day-to-day lives, including volunteer and extracurricular activities.
Technology and digital skills are in high demand right now and new jobs are being created in the pandemic.
Indeed lists numerous software development and information services jobs on its site.
There were 1.5 million new applications for Employer Tax Identification Numbers in the third quarter of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's a 77.4 percent increase of new business applications from the second quarter.
"I think what we're seeing is a lot of innovators and that's what we're known for, right, that's what the United States is: we're a nation of innovators," Oates said.
As a mentor for emerging technology startups in education, she told Connolly and Carousso that she has learned of an influx of investments in the space over the summer.
Meantime, operating businesses are preparing for their future. Oates said many companies have started using staffing agencies to train young workers - many recent college graduates - to develop their talent pools.
One staffing agency she mentioned on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight is Houston-based Talent Path; they provide career development for recent graduates so they are "work-ready." On its website, Talent Path writes, "colleges and universities don't always know the pressing technology needs of employers." The firm aims to bridge that "disconnect."
"We've seen a lot of it all over the country and New York always has been a place where staffing agencies have been a vibrant source where employers can kind of see before they buy," Oates said.
The former Labor Department official named Revature, Genuent and Optimum Healthcare IT as other qualified staffing agencies.
"I also think (employers are) waiting to see what the longer term trends are going to be," said Oates, continuing, "I mention healthcare, what's going to happen permanently with telemedicine, and quite frankly, what's going to happen permanently in terms of people working full-time remotely?"
She pointed to her own experience working longer hours at home and worries about family relationships being harmed because people cannot physically get away from their jobs. She also expressed her concern about adverse unintended consequences surrounding career advancement of which, she said, employees and employers should be aware.
"If you can't impress somebody on the work site, if they can't walk past you or have you come into a meeting - a meeting that you might not have been invited to originally - and have you really impress them with your knowledge and skills, I think that will be bad for the upward mobility, professionally, for so many people," Oates said.
Hear ideas on how to combat these challenges and the steps you can take now to advance your career or business on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast on the RADIO.COM app or the media player above.