The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a once-in-a-lifetime disruption to the world economy. Countless businesses have been forced to close their doors and millions of Canadians have lost their jobs, had their hours reduced, or been temporarily laid off during the crisis. Though the economy has been hit hard by these changes, there are some hopeful signs. Some critical jobs are experiencing a surge during the pandemic.
If you’re looking for work right now, like hundreds of thousands of other Canadians, here are some skills and jobs that are in demand right now.
With COVID-19 keeping everyone indoors, we’re spending more time online than ever. Developers keep all the digital platforms we rely on running smoothly. Many businesses are also counting on online sales to keep them afloat during this period of social distancing. Developers help businesses ramp up their e-commerce capabilities, debug and troubleshoot existing platforms, or build enterprise tools to help employers transition their workforce to work from home. Some employers are also using the slower period to work on big projects that were sidelined prior to the pandemic. From website redesigns, to software upgrades, to building new features, some long-gestating projects are finally seeing the light of day. Talented developers in all specialties are needed to bring them to life.
2. sales representatives and account managers
Many businesses are experiencing a sales downturn during COVID-19. While essential businesses are thriving and experiencing higher than normal sales volume, businesses in other sectors deemed non-essential are feeling the pinch as consumers scale back and focus their spending on securing basic necessities. Businesses that rely on B2B sales are also finding their sales under pressure, as organizations scale back their spending to reduce overhead during this uncertain time. Due to these challenging circumstances, companies are looking for all the help they can get promoting their products and services. B2C and B2B salespeople who are able to find the difficult balance between driving sales and navigating this crisis with sensitivity are in high demand.
3. retail clerks and cashiers
It’s no secret that essential retail stores are experiencing a surge in sales right now. Anyone who has been to a grocery store recently has witnessed the long lines and bare shelves. Grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores, bulk stores, discount stores and other essential retailers are under strain as they work around the clock to secure inventory and ensure their employees and shoppers stay safe. Retail clerks and cashiers are on the front lines, ensuring shoppers are able to get the groceries and other essentials they need during self-isolation. Stores are taking every precaution to protect their workers, installing plexiglass barriers, providing critical protective equipment such as masks and gloves, and encouraging touchless payment methods such as debit or credit cards. However, as a customer-facing role, cashiers and retail clerks are required to report to work every day. Their work is critical, ensuring that all Canadians are able to access much-needed supplies.
4. nurses and healthcare workers
With the influx of COVID-19 patients at hospitals, clinics, long-term care homes and other healthcare facilities, the shortage of nurses is more acute than ever. Many COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals require long-term intensive care spanning weeks or even months in severe cases. Nurses are responsible for the day-to-day care of these patients. Registered and practical nurses are particularly in demand. Since most nurses aren’t looking to change jobs in the middle of the crisis, facilities that are experiencing nursing shortages are finding it extremely difficult to find the support they need. There’s also a spike in healthcare support jobs. Healthcare administrators and other support staff provide much-needed relief to nurses, doctors and front-line healthcare workers responsible for patient care. The influx of patients has led to more administrative tasks such as enrolling patients, updating records, and ordering supplies.
5. transport truck drivers
Essential retailers experiencing huge surges in sales need to constantly refresh their inventory to keep product on their shelves. Truck drivers are the primary way that stores receive deliveries. During normal operations, stores in less-busy areas of the country may receive 1 to 2 deliveries per week to refresh their inventory. The number of deliveries has ramped up significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some heavily trafficked stores receiving multiple deliveries daily, as they scramble to keep up with the huge spike in sales. That’s put pressure on professions all down the supply chain, including transport truck drivers. Anyone who has a commercial driver’s license is in demand right now, as supply chains across the country struggle to keep up inventory flowing.
6. IT consultants
Canadians have been spending a lot of time online during the pandemic, both during work hours and their downtime. Mobile apps, enterprise software, video conferencing, websites, online ordering systems and other IT systems are experiencing extremely high volumes. Some businesses are scrambling to increase the capacity of their online ordering systems and troubleshoot technical issues that arise during the crisis. Keeping these systems functional is critical for businesses to operate remotely and bring in revenue. IT consultants support building, improving and maintaining essential IT systems during this critical period. With a large portion of the Canadian workforce working from home, IT consultants who support remote networking and data security are also being recruited during the crisis.
7. call centre representatives
During the crisis, customer service phone lines are ringing off the hook. Online channels such as live chat and email support are also incredibly popular right now. Customers may have questions, need assistance cancelling or suspending their services, placing orders, or otherwise accessing support. From rescheduling travel plans with airlines, hotels and other providers in the hospitality industry, to suspending ongoing subscriptions that won’t be needed during self-isolation, to clarifying questions about item availability, shipping, or other policies in effect during the pandemic, call centre representatives have their hands full. Call centre staff can also work remotely, allowing for physical distancing. This makes them an attractive alternative for organizations responding to a surge in customer requests.
8. civil engineers
Construction projects have been deemed essential in several provinces, including Ontario. Building sites for critical infrastructure including healthcare, transit and residential housing projects remain active. Skilled civil engineers oversee these projects and ensure that roads, tunnels, bridges, hospitals, schools, homes, water and sewage systems, and a host of other private and public buildings and infrastructure are constructed with integrity. Shortages of affordable housing have been well-documented in cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. With more Canadians unemployed in the coming months, affordable housing is an urgent concern for governments. Civil engineers ensure existing projects stay on track and are built safely.
9. retail supervisors
Supermarkets and other essential retailers are experiencing record sales as Canadians stock up on groceries, cleaning supplies, and other necessities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retailers have responded by ramping up hiring. To manage their rapidly expanding workforce, retailers need experienced supervisors to oversee day-to-day operations and keep their stores functioning. Supervisors organize employee schedules and ensure adequate coverage, support recruitment, supply chain, and health and safety initiatives, deal with customer complaints, and assist with any other issues that customer-facing staff can’t deal with on their own. Calm, experienced supervisors are critical to operations running smoothly, especially during a crisis where tensions are running high.
10. advertising and marketing managers
Many businesses have had their sales drop dramatically. With store closures and enterprise clients cutting costs to save their own businesses, organizations must adapt and find new ways of reaching their customers. That’s put a spotlight on marketing teams. Digital marketers are in especially high demand right now as companies pivot to online channels to find customers and new sources of revenue that will help them stay afloat during the crisis. Marketers who are able to strike the right balance between driving sales and being sensitive to the crisis are especially important right now. With companies investing their marketing budgets into social media marketing, online and video advertising, savvy marketers are needed to execute these strategies.
11. administrative assistants
COVID-19 has led to a surge in work for several departments within companies. Functions such as legal, health and safety, marketing, customer service, HR and accounting are just some of the departments that may be busier than usual during the crisis. Administrative assistants are able to provide general support and take some weight off departments that have a high volume of work coming in. Administrative assistants can support their colleagues in areas such as typing, formatting or filing documents, answering or redirecting phone calls, or providing other general office support.
12. accountants and financial professionals
COVID-19 has disrupted global financial markets. Thousands of companies have been forced to close and over a million Canadians have lost their source of income. In response to this financial uncertainty, Canadians want to know how they can secure their financial future, protect their savings, and access financial support. From accessing mortgage deferrals, to protecting assets such as RRSPs and TSFAs, to understanding how to file their 2019 taxes amid the crisis, Canadians are looking for all the financial guidance they can get. Accountants and financial professionals are also in demand on a corporate level as companies look for ways to cut costs and balance their books so they can hold it together during the COVID-19 pandemic and emerge from the other side.
13. inventory control
With essential products flying off the shelves during COVID-19, supply chains are under immense pressure to keep up with demand. Inventory control specialists work in a store or warehouse and are in charge of keeping track of existing stock and scaling purchasing up or down in response to demand. With many critical goods and services in short supply right now, a savvy inventory management team is a must for retailers. Experienced inventory control professionals who have experience managing a supply chain and building relationships with distributors are critical to keep essential goods flowing right now.
14. help desk and IT support
Many companies have transitioned all or a large part of their workforce to a work-from-home model. A seismic shift like this requires a huge amount of coordination and support from internal IT personnel. From ensuring workers have the right hardware to work remotely (such as laptops, monitors, phones, etc.), to setting up remote access to enterprise software, VPNs, home networking, and video conferencing, to supporting workers who experience errors and need assistance with troubleshooting, maintaining a remote workforce is no easy undertaking. Help desk ensure that their colleagues are able to maintain their business activities and stay productive while working from home.
15. janitors and cleaners
Canadian public health officials have released strict health and safety guidelines businesses should follow to keep their workers and customers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In essential workplaces that can’t be shut down during the pandemic, frequent cleaning and sanitizing reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Grocery stores, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and other essential workplaces are ramping up their cleaning staff so they can closely follow government recommendations. During the pandemic, cleaners are deep cleaning at least once per day. In high touch areas, spot cleaning may take place on an hourly or even more frequent basis to limit the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible.
16. human resources
COVID-19 has presented challenges for both workers and employers. So HR professionals are staying incredibly busy. Many employers have laid off workers during the crisis. HR is often responsible for communicating layoffs to affected workers and ensuring they have the paperwork they need to apply for government benefits. HR also supports employees who continue to work through the pandemic, supporting functions such as benefits administration, payroll, training, health and safety, employee complaints and any other issues that arise with employees. In some industries that are surging during the pandemic, HR is also responsible for quickly recruiting and onboarding new employees to meet demand.
With Canadians stockpiling essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, products are flying off store shelves. Manufacturers are working hard to keep up with retailers’ orders for essential products such as toilet paper, disinfectants, soap, hand sanitizer, and various food products. If you’ve been grocery shopping lately, you’ve probably noticed lots of bare shelves. Manufacturers across Canada are scaling up their production capabilities to respond to these shortages. They’re rapidly increasing their output by hiring labourers such as assemblers, line workers and quality control staff to maximize production of in-demand consumer goods in their facilities.
18. warehouse workers
COVID-19 has led to a surge in customers stocking up on essential goods and other supplies needed during quarantine. Warehouse workers in commercial distribution centres and direct-to-consumer warehouses are working around the clock to ensure that inventory is moving and reaching stores and customers. Online sales have increased dramatically, as well. People who would typically purchase their groceries or other supplies in person are trying home delivery services for the first time. Warehouse workers are needed to process these orders and ensure they reach customers in a timely manner. Pickers and packers are in especially high demand, though many warehouse positions are available.
19. business development
Many businesses have experienced a dramatic drop in their sales due to COVID-19. Some are struggling to adapt to the sudden shift in consumer behaviour and find ways to make up for lost revenue. Business development specialists provide consulting and help companies identify opportunities. They also help their employer build strategic relationships with prospective clients. During times of crisis, this support can be the difference between losing money and securing a critical new source of revenue. For companies that rely heavily on B2B sales, business development is especially important because it’s more difficult to build B2B relationships through online channels.
20. manufacturing engineers
Manufacturers in sectors like consumer goods and healthcare supplies are ramping up production to respond to increased demand. Manufacturing engineers with the skills and knowledge to quickly scale up production or retool facilities to produce much-needed products are in high demand right now. The shortage of healthcare supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers has been especially well-publicized. The shortages are so severe that some manufacturers are retooling their facilities to produce desperately needed products (for example: breweries or cosmetic companies manufacturing hand sanitizer, or car parts manufacturers retooling to produce ventilators). Manufacturing engineers ensure these transitions go smoothly.