Bouncing back from COVID-19

Right now we are inundated with information with the current impact of COVID-19. Lots of advice on rate of infections, death rates and quarantines. There is no doubt that the situation will have dire economic consequences and impact our careers and jobs. Both fresh graduates and seasoned workers (including hourly and freelance workers) will worry about their future and their prospects.

Here are some practical steps to help you weather the storm.

Take on a trade

In Sri Lanka, we tend look down on blue collar careers. In the last 20–30 years there has been a significant boom in white collar jobs as well as the number of independent courses encouraging white collar careers and individuals on social media that define ‘success’ as we know it.

However, now is not the time to be picky and let your ego do the talking. There is no shame in doing a job that is outside of your chosen career path or below your current salary band during this time. If the opportunity presents, take on multiple part time roles including farming, trades, manufacturing or service sector roles. It is not an insult on your hard-earned qualifications. Think of this as a short term detour in your long term plan while learning important life skills.

Employers should not penalise experience attained outside a job seeker’s static career path and career breaks during this crisis. Objectively assess the transferable skills they can bring to your organisation. Remember, the more diverse your team the better you will be at innovation, understanding your customers better and creating new revenue streams.

Get flexible with work

If you can’t afford a redundancy speak to your employer or potential employer about working for reduced hours. For seasoned workers on permanent contracts, have a look at how much annual leave balance you have accumulated and utilise this as a buffer to keep financed and employed.

Speak to employers and contacts in other industries that you can easily transfer skills over and build a network to support you with career prospects once we weather the storm.

Scenario plan you budget

It’s good practice to budget for 12–24 months in advance under any circumstances with savings targets. However, with the prospects of economic strife you need to plan for your finances even better. This will help you face the situation in a prepared manner than it taking you by surprise. Write up a budget planning out best (where you retain your current job), bad (where work is limited) and worst (where you lose your job) to prioritize and forgo certain expenses to help you with spending on essential goods and services only.

Brush up your skills

There are a plethora of open education platforms you can find online. Make use of this time to learn a new trade like carpentry or farming or even a skill like data science or coding.

If you have been at home being a full time carer and if you are facing financial strife, a second income stream to your household will be valuable once businesses are open to trade at the end of this crisis. So make sure to brush up on your employability skills to re-enter the workforce.

Be sustainable with your purchases

When buying goods during this time, ensure you by ‘versatile’ goods like jackfruit, red rice flour, baking soda, salt etc.: that will allow you to create a wide variety of dishes combining a few ingredients that’s high in nutrition. This is much cost effective than buying the pre made goods off supermarket shelves at a premium. Try and stick to native ingredients that are cheaper than imported goods.

Take the ‘nose-to-tail’ approach to utilising the entire fruit, vegetable or animal produce. With fruit and vegetables, look at opportunities to dehydrate, pickle or oven/sun dry to enable longevity of goods to help you stretch an extra meal or two.

Teaching your children

As you weather the storm, make sure you share and let your children observe the your actions and ask questions. These are life skills that will enable them to thrive later in life. By not providing everything on demand, they will learn to be more resourceful in their careers and learn valuable skills like budgeting, being independent and being frugal during tough times. They will also not be afraid to face difficult situations as they have seen their parents weather the storm and see through with success.

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Sustainable Education Foundation

We empower students, education institutes and education as a whole in Sri Lanka.