Workforce Trends of 2020

While each year presents workforce trends, the 2020 trends stem from the pandemic. As the region’s dedicated workforce board, below we examine four of the most prominent workforce trends of 2020.

Technology’s Integral Play in 2020 Survival

Although specific mitigations varied, the entire country was forced to close down, pushing businesses to work remotely or not at all. Those that had the ability to serve customers remotely were able to stabilize business and maintain staff employment. Technology is how businesses and families communicated with one another and some companies even used this opportunity to integrate even more technology such as Zoom and Constant Contact.

The Industry Who Saw a Massive Boom

Are we even surprised to see Transportation, Logistics, and Warehousing on this list? When the pandemic hit, people soared to the stores to grab the finest toilet paper, deep freezers, and food to the point stores had to put limits on purchasing items. We find heroes in all of our essential workers, including truck drivers whose work increased with these demands. In fact, within Boone, Stephenson, and Winnebago, IL counties, truck drivers is the occupation sought most for hiring needs. Along with that, warehouses were forced to stock as much as they could, despite the fact that they would need replenishment much sooner than usual.

Within this industry, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention companies like Amazon, UPS, USPS, and FedEx who are serving as Santa Claus – and have been all year long. When you’re told not to leave your house or cannot but still need items, who do you turn to and who delivers those items? Pictures have flooded the internet with boxes stacked above eye-level in December just in time for the holiday season.

The Digital Divide and Achieving Digital Equity

Have you hear this phrase already? If not, you’ll want to read up on the digital divide. Technology and internet is not just about being able to access the latest Tik Tok or an entertainment awards recap on Twitter, it is to the point now in our society that it is about equitable access. How can we expect individuals to succeed if they don’t have the necessary tools to achieve that improvement?

The Workforce Connection was recently awarded an $18,600 grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois to purchase 60 Chromebooks to allow individuals – both adults and youth – who do not have access to technology the ability to attend online sessions and complete their education or training program.

Collaboration is Key

This year has been tough, there’s just no getting around it. One thing is clear, though: collaboration is key. We’ve seen communities pool together to support local businesses to ensure their survival, with some folks doing a Friday night take-out meal at a new restaurant each week. We’ve even seen some local businesses support other local businesses, such as Rockford Art Deli’s “Here For Good” t-shirt campaign, raising over $100,000 for local small businesses. Partnership is also how we, as a workforce development organization, are able to serve hundreds of employers a year.

If your business or organization is in need of talent acquisition, upskilling current employees, or starting an apprenticeship, contact our Business Services Team to see about grants.