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Rethinking on Unemployment in the New Normal

On 8th August 2020 at 10:30AM GMT, Reimagining Society conducted the first webinar in the ‘Wellbeing Webinar Series’ on ‘Rethinking on Unemployment and Career Wellbeing’ in support with UN75 Dialogue. The guest speaker for this webinar is Ms. Bian Li, an entrepreneur, multiple times TEDx speaker, and a Forbes 40 Under 40 leader for Southern California. As the founder of The Hungry Lab with over 15 years of experience working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, innovators and changemakers of all sizes across 30 countries, Ms. Li shared insights about the current state of unemployment, and how the youths can equip themselves for the job market of the future.

Photo courtesy: Asia Times/Getty


Unemployment situation

According to the report published by the International Labour Organisation in May, 2020, 305 million people lost their jobs due to COVID-19 outbreak. Ms. Li shared that we are only hitting the iceberg in terms of the economy, especially for wage workers. Countries with no safety net are the worst hit because they cannot depend on state support. The youths are therefore responsible for their own well-being and future. It is up to them to equip themselves with the skills that support their readiness for the future of work. The jobs that the youths create themselves can be entrepreneurship or any job that best aligns with their values in a way that they enjoy.


Career wellbeing

The youths of today need to ask the question of who they want to be when they grow up, which requires them to think more in-depth about the future they want to create for themselves. Ms. Li introduced several frameworks to think about career well-being: Ikigai, 5 V’s and 6 P’s. ‘Ikigai’ means reason for being. It is the interaction of what you want to do, what the world needs, what you are good at, and what you can be paid for. Combined with Passion, the other P’s of Purpose, Potential, Profit, and Pipeline can further be used as a tool to think about what we want out of life. Ms. Li also suggested that for the youth, volunteering for the cause they are passionate about can be a stepping stone to gainful employment. 5 V’s is another resourceful tool to think about which direction to take. These include vision creation, values that make one unique, vitality in health, volatility forecast and planning, and visibility of one’s impact. Once equipped with these tools, the youths can utilize them as a guiding-post to evaluate career trajectory, including their salary and work environment.

Youth entrepreneurship

We need more problem solvers as the world is filled with problems. We cannot solely rely on the government for jobs. Therefore, entrepreneurship, and investing in young people and new ways to make livelihood will be increasingly important. Ms. Li believes that it is imperative to encourage young people to think like an entrepreneur because it will serve them well no matter what they do. For youth start-ups, she advised that they need to think about how they are going to create long term value sustainably within a system, which means thinking about which stakeholders they want to serve as well as their start-up ‘Ikigai’.

Gender inequality in the labour market


Globally, almost 510 million, or 40% of all employed women work in the four most-affected sectors, compared with 36.5% of men, according to statistics from the ILO. Ms. Li pointed out that gender equality depends on the country and its policies towards women in the workplace. Some countries are better for women in terms of work or freedom rights for women especially. In many workplace, female representation and pay is still unequal to that of males. The residual effects of pre-COVID will get transferred to after the pandemic. Women are stuck at home are not able to earn. Incidents of rape and domestic violence have also increased around the world during these lockdown days. These are the realities that women have to face and statistically they are the victims. Women have to do housework, care taking, along with professional work. Ms. Li urged that we need to take care of the core issues on the ground first to understand the condition of women post-COVID.

The future of education

“If they are in the classroom just for theory, we are ignoring their geniuses,” added by Ms. Li on the current state of education. A longitudinal study by NASA found that between the ages of 3-5, 98% of the children in the study tested as creative geniuses. By the time they reach their 30s, only 2% retain this status. Students need to focus on the future of learning and have more time for practical experiences to gain work exposure. Ms. Li suggested that we need to work, accelerate, and collaborate with inspirational teachers who help students move forward by investing in teacher training, especially mindset training.

Skills for career success

To thrive in the future, we need to focus on the future of learning”. According to ‘The Future of Jobs’ report published by the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that do not yet exist. The youths are required to have an open mindset to accept ambiguity to prepare for this uncertainty of jobs. It’s about reinventing their skills and packaging their value. By 2022, everyone will need extra 101 days for learning. The future will depend on our ability to learn, relearn, and unlearn. We need to reframe our mindset to be open to these. Other soft skills such as self-awareness, curiosity, love of learning, humility, adaptability, and being coachable are crucial to one’s career success. ‘We’ve always done it this way’ have now become the most dangerous words.


Watch the webinar here!


Reimagining society through the ‘Four Greats’

We need to shift our approach from resilience to the four greats of this generation as this pandemic is a high-time for reassessment. Firstly, through the ‘Great Awakening’, we reflect on the deeper meaning of life to understand what is supposed to be done. Secondly, the ‘Great Resetting’ concerns the recovery of the natural world. We need to start thinking about how our actions will affect seven generations down the line. Thirdly, the ‘Great Reckoning’. To create a better future, we need to learn to recognise our past mistakes and successes. Lastly is the ‘Great Regeneration’. How do we combine the lessons learned from the last three points to rebuild our world?

The webinar ended on a positive note after a fruitful Q&A session on the impact of unemployment in terms of economic wellbeing, mental wellbeing as well as career wellbeing pre-and-post pandemic. As a closing note, Ms. Li invited young people to regenerate, rebuild, and reimagine our future together.


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