A key challenge presented by the pandemic was the failure to allocate productive work to volunteers and to those using the furlough system.
The inherent opportunity is to consider ways in which such people could be utilized ‚’ not just in responding to needs created by the pandemic but also in terms of developing skills suitable for the future and contributing to improving local communities with the intention of providing a myriad of benefits related to health, well-being, and economic growth. In retrospect, it didn‚’t make sense for the central bank to fund salaries without considering what people would be doing in that time to enhance skills and competitiveness.
This problem extends beyond the pandemic as responding to underemployment, unemployment, and automation are all challenges which will place pressure on future employment. Furthermore, a less generous social safety net along with a range of other economic factors possesses the inherent danger of perpetuating a low skilled labour market whereby people are reliant on low incomes to survive and can not take time out to retrain, upskill, and increase their relative bargaining power. The pandemic, as well as the wider globalisation movement, shows us that there is plenty of work that requires attention but which is not being addressed by the private sector or is not work which could justify the creation of a salaried job role.
There is, therefore, an opportunity to dedicate underutilized and unutilized productive work towards projects and trainings which will benefit local areas but which focus on local skills and resources to ensure low costs and low risk of creating inflation. In other words, it presents the opportunity to transition towards an approach focused on quality where those left behind by the economy are given a chance to contribute in a meaningful way.