The coronavirus pandemic has rattled the higher education sector, causing budget cuts, mass redundancies, and job insecurity for the foreseeable future. Traditional academic career paths have vanished, and the needs and support required by employees now are as unique as each person.
So, is the traditional outplacement program enough for the current environment and emerging individual needs?
Supporting academic career transitions during coronavirus
For academic staff, their employment and career prospects are at risk. Universities Australia announced 17,300 university jobs had been lost due to the pandemic, with more predicted to follow. Research positions are vulnerable and competition within the sector (and out) remains high.
In the past, affected employees would have been supported with career transition services that focused on the job search, however the current environment demands a different approach.
Here are three reasons why the higher education sector needs to offer customisable career transition support.
1. Job search tools alone, aren’t enough
In the past, when a position was made redundant, that employee could likely find a similar role within the same university, or at another one. But in the current climate, it’s highly likely your academic employees will need to consider a complete career change. And with that, potentially grieving the loss of their professional identity.
Traditional career transition programs tend to focus on job search planning, resume and cover letter writing to help the displaced employee land their new role. But COVID-19 has flipped life as we know it on its head, meaning displaced employees can be feeling more financially, physiologically, and emotionally stressed than in ‘normal times’.
Job search tools alone may not be enough to support your people when a different, whole person approach is needed.
2. Cookie cutter doesn’t cut it
Advances in technology have transformed our lives and the way we do work. As a result, consumer behaviour has changed, and we now demand flexibility and choice. Much like hybrid working arrangements are now in high demand for post-pandemic life, so too, is the individual’s demand for choice and flexibility in how they receive career (and life) support.
3. Things are really different in the employment market
Experiencing a redundancy during a pandemic is not a traditional experience. Economic uncertainty is universal, bringing with it financial and physiological distress, and a competitive job market that may take some time to re-enter.
While they will need a new source of income, they may be considering opportunities outside of traditional employment, like starting their own business or moving into consulting. They may feel more deeply connected to a sense of purpose, seeking guidance on finding more meaningful work that aligns with their values and needs.
Traditionally, job search coaching might have been enough, but in today’s climate, upskilling and reskilling may be necessary to help academic staff bridge the gap.
Academic career transition support must be customisable
When you give your employees a choice, you empower them to take charge of their journey in the way that best serves their interests and needs. While experiencing a job loss (and potential identity loss), can feel devastating, it’s important you support your staff as they adjust, reassess, and take informed steps forward.