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Moving through and beyond COVID-19 Global Employment Effects

Moving through and beyond
COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 17

By Brian A. Schwartz, Ph.D.

The following article, written by Dr. Brian A. Schwartz, represents the seventeenth in an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Dr. Schwartz lives in Suzhou, a major city in southeastern Jiangsu, an eastern-central coastal province of the People's Republic of China.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the globe, in China, it has receded. Here in Suzhou, China, and elsewhere across the country, we are somewhat ahead of the curve of most other nations as the Coronavirus has been effectively contained, with only some occasional brush fires and flare ups. Continuing to keep in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), this article submission briefly describes the fault lines of every society impacted by the pandemic and the emergence of a “new normal” which augurs a world few of us anticipated six months ago.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

The “New Normal” and the Pandemic Lockdown Effect of Migrant Workers

China’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) for the second quarter of 2020 is 3.2% and our economy appears to be moving back to normal. However, there is little that is normal as life begins anew after the drastic lockdowns that enabled China to be one of the countries most effective in containing the Coronavirus. While many of our working population have returned to their jobs, large numbers of migrant workers have decided to stay in their villages rather than return to the cities where they had been employed. According to the China Labour Bulletin, https://clb.org.hk/content/migrant-workers-and-their-children, “There were an estimated 291 million rural migrant workers in China in 2019, comprising more than one-third of the entire Chinese working population. Migrant workers have been the engine of Chinas spectacular economic growth over the last three decades.”

The recent pandemic lockdowns served as a real time reminder to migrant workers of what life is like when living with their spouses and children and parents and longtime neighbors. The houkao system, formally introduced by the government in 1958 to government welfare and resource distribution, internal migration control and criminal surveillance (see https://clb.org.hk/content/migrant-workers-and-their-children), does not allow migrant workers to legally move the residence of their families and so the history of families broken by the need to take jobs in the cities has taken its toll on the men and women who were sacrificing for a better life for their parents, spouses and children. Interestingly, the World Happiness Report of 2019, https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2019/, had pinpointed the rather low position of China on the Happiness Index to lie, in part, in the unhappiness of longtime migrant workers and their disappointment in the quality of their lives.

The “New Normal” Effect on Small and Medium Chinese Businesses, Global Manufacturing and More

For those of us in the broad field of career services and especially in my area of career and life design counseling, the pandemic has brought about a sea change in the world of work as well as the personal lives of hundreds of millions in China. Small and medium sized businesses and organizations have been upended; many folding under the weight of cash or revenue starvation and many finding that their employees have not returned for a variety of significant reasons. While migrant workers certainly account for some of the lost labor, the service industries have been hit especially hard. Many have been reporting business off by up to 90% and having to lay off workers as there simply is not enough money to retain them. Hospitality, including hotels and restaurants, have been decimated along with tourism, private education and training sectors. Indeed, consulting in general has been hard hit along with manufacturing. The latter sector is the victim of a resetting of the global supply chains as countries struggle with the shortages caused by supply chain disruptions, especially in China, the workshop of the world. Instead of keeping their manufacturing eggs in the one basket of China, in the “new normal”, many countries and their companies are moving to a more localized manufacturing strategy. While this may be a boon to other Asia Pacific countries, especially those attuned to agile development such as Vietnam and South Korea, many of these countries will need to overcome infrastructure and under-skilled labor challenges to be competitive.

The “New Normal” Effect . . . Move to Greater Simplicity & Emphasis on Meaning

Most striking though is a subtle but unmistakable shift that is taking place in the psyches of many Chinese people, especially those in the increasing middle class. The epidemic and its lockdowns have thrown families together in a concentrated way that has engendered much reflection in people about how they want to live their lives. While money has been king for many years and the race for money and all that it can buy dominated people’s lives, I have increasingly found people questioning the Chinese version of the Western “rat race” and increasingly considering how to lead lives of greater simplicity, less consumerism and more emphasis on traditional values. I am particularly struck by the increasing questioning of traditional mores and a greater concern for deeper and more meaningful relationships as well as work that better matches who they truly are. On the one hand, as a career and life design psychologist, this could not be better news as this is the hope those of us have always had if we are attuned to the spiritual as well as material bases for human happiness. Young people are looking at the lives of their grandparents and parents and deciding, often with deep pain, that this is not the kind of life they want for themselves.

The “New Normal” Unemployment Effect for the Educated Elite, Future World Recession and Class Warfare

However, there is a major catch. The post COVID-19 pandemic is ushering in what is likely to be at least five to ten years of adjusting to the “new normal” I previously mentioned. There is going to a global contraction in the economies of the world. That contraction will likely bring with it the kind of social and political unrest the likes of which none of us has seen before. While China’s socialism with Chinese characteristics may continue to be acceptable here in China, the years of vast economic expansion would appear to be on hold. With over 8.5 million new university graduates looking, for the most part, to enter the current reduced job market, the advent of massive unemployment of the educated elite is upon us and vastly underscored by the millions of graduates of technical and vocational schools as well as high school graduates who are also entering the workforce. While the economy relies heavily, perhaps 70%, on consumer activity, exports are likely to be seriously affected by the likely world recession if not Great Depression asserting itself on every continent. The United Nations is predicting that the great advances over poverty of the past few decades will evaporate and billions of people will face not only increased food and jobs insecurity but will also be ravaged by existential climate changes that are already causing wildfires, storms of greater ferocity, floods, earthquakes and other man-induced calamities that threaten much of life on this small planet. (See https://news.un.org/en/.) Outside of China, the masses of people who have not participated significantly in the greater productivity of capitalism, regulated and unregulated, are already demonstrating their desire for radical change. Class warfare abounds and the stakes are high for the current political and social elites as the have nots are rising up against their truncated futures.

The “New Normal” – Considerations for Providing Career Development

While no individual is up to the task of saving Humankind from the forces that are raining down upon us, I suggest we, as career development providers, consider keeping our ears to the ground to understand how the people we are called upon to serve will best benefit from our services. We counselors, coaches and consultants may want to consider reframing ourselves as agents of change who catalyze and facilitate the creative force within each of the people we serve. To help with this reframing, consider taking the time to understand who you are and where you, yourself, want to be during these emerging times of massive social and economic upheaval. Then consider taking the time to understand the slow but discernable lessening of personal ambition and quest for material well-being and the increasing and emerging interest in spiritual and personal development. The universal quest for happiness is the greatest motivator of human beings. From Isaiah to Jesus to Confucius to Mencius to Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, it is the love of life that has touched Humankind most deeply. In summary, we may want to consider maximizing our own self-awareness in the service of our clients to help in their pursuit of happiness. I have personally found great wisdom and the solace that comes from adhering to that wisdom of the Ages as found in the i Ching or Chinese Book of Changes (a 2,500 year old work of divination and prophecy). The lust for the material leaves those who trod that path empty at the end of the day. The overemphasis on the inanimate of possessions leaves a void, a veritable emotional and spiritual Black Hole, for those who go down that road. Human happiness comes from loving oneself and therefore gaining the capacity to love others even before oneself. We as career professionals do our best work when we are able to love our clients by focusing on their strengths and potentials, challenging their destructive demons and helping them to better understand the meaning of their lives, their stories as they follow their dreams to achieve their destiny. If we hold to the mission of helping people to embrace their authenticity and to utilize their creative and imaginative selves in the service of their own happiness and the happiness of the ones they hold dear, we will have fulfilled our mission.


Brian A. Schwartz, Ph.D’s 43 years of career consulting experience is comprised of almost 1800 individual career planning clients who have designed their career direction from the inside out and more than 35 years of organization development experience building participative management cultures in the USA, UK, Europe and China. He is a visionary who integrates 21st Century online tools to assess career fit and talent management strategies for individuals and organizations, including CareerDNA, TalentDNA and TeamDNA products and services. Dr. Schwartz received his business license for Suzhou Success Partners Consulting Company (social entrepreneurship model) in China in July, 2013 to provide employment readiness training and assessment to university, college and high school students as well as consulting, training, assessment and research services to companies and government agencies throughout China. His career assessment programs are based on his Six Factor Career Planning model. He secured Asian strategic partners in exciting career and life design counseling and coaching nationwide projects in the Philippines, beginning in second quarter 2018. Currently, Dr. Schwartz is working on projects in Singapore, the Netherlands, Malaysia, India, Vietnam and Australia.

Dr. Schwartz was invited to be a Fellow of the Institute of Career Certification International (ICCI), serving on its Board of Governors and Global Council. He has designed and co-developed an Accredited Career and Talent Professionals certification program (ACTDP) which was inaugurated and delivered in English in December, 2015, in Chinese in January and July 2018 and in the Philippines in November, 2018. His specialties include: training career counselors and coaches, career and executive assessments, career and life design counseling/planning/management, career coaching, talent management consulting, executive coaching, organization development consulting and career transition counseling.


Moving through and beyond
COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 16

By Elisabeth P. Montgomery, Ph.D. and Claire Ouyang, Ph.D.

The following article is written by two of our APCDA Country/Area Council representatives, Drs. Elisabeth P. Montgomery for South China and Claire Ouyang for Macau. Their submission represents the sixteenth in an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Dr. Montgomery lives in Shenzhen, the fifth most populous city proper in China, and Dr. Ouyang in Macau, a city in the western Pearl River Delta by the South China Sea.

In January 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 and the pandemic's declaration created a perfect storm around the globe and massively impacted the business/career world. We feel it is neatly summed up by the business term VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.(1) Continuing to keep in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), this co-authored article submission is a brief explanation of VUCA and how it links to China, Careers and COVID-19.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

VUCA: Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity

VUCA is, first and foremost, a military planning strategy for understanding how much leaders know and how well they can predict results from actions in a time of war. Mainland China responded to the COVID-19 in a unified manner, as in the act of war. The main symbols of the pandemic volatility became the sudden school closings and the impact around the world. Applying VACU requires a different approach for each of its four areas.

In January 2020, mainland China schools just let out for the annual Spring Festival, and families were on the move to go home or go traveling for a holiday. The Chinese government had a chance to galvanize the education administrations to prepare, experiment with and invest in winning strategies for opening after the holiday. It launched nationwide programs called “Suspending Classes Without Stopping Learning.”(2) The response to COVID-19 became a strategy of online learning.

After most of China contained COVID-19, the government proceeded with transitioning 289 million students to online classes. The online courses used three significant platforms: government, commercial and a few nonprofits, including other education technology applications. The uncertainty led to rapid new responses.

In March 2020, classroom activity in schools started to recover, although schools drastically reduced extra-curricular activities and suspended kindergartens for the school year. As schools opened in each province and region, China's school response took on Complexity. For example, in Shenzhen, a major city in south China’s Guangdong Province, the first students to return to school were those in the graduating classes: primary grade 6, middle school grade 9, and high school grade 12. According to Moore (1993), "The Theory of Transactional Distance states that as the level of interaction between teacher and learner decreases, learner autonomy must increase."(3)

3/8-12 Government-Solicited Study Surveys Secondary School Teachers Usage of Online Educational Products

A Chinese government-solicited study surveying the country’s COVID-19 pandemic was released in April and showed a range of reactions from teachers. The study investigated the interactive forms, interactive effects and usage evaluation of 2,377 primary and secondary school teachers using online education products from March 8 to 12, 2020, through the online data experiment platform "Jishu Cloud".(4) The New Media Communication Research Center of Beijing Normal University began the study with three aspects of online education products answering the questions:

  • In cyberspace, how do we complete with interactive teaching?
  • What new forms and problems appear?
  • How effective is online teaching?

Regarding the current problems in online education, the most frequently reported problem by teachers surveyed is insufficient interaction, which shows the importance of online interaction methodologies. In terms of interactive methods (called lianmai), the most used are voice (58.1%) and video (53.8%). Teachers with 5-10 years of teaching experience frequently used a barrage of communication and “red envelopes” or small prizes! Teachers with more than 20 years of teaching experience used the most interactive methods of online testing. Overall interaction index showed that teachers in municipalities directly under the Central Government significantly higher than those in small towns and villages. In the village communities, teachers' interaction index with the students' age of 5-10 years is the highest.

Seven online methods in the survey stood out. Among the surveyed Chinese teachers, all used 39 online education products. The highest utilization rate of more than 10% is in descending order:

  1. Social communication software such as WeChat
  2. DingTalk mobile office platform
  3. National primary and secondary school network
  4. Homework assistance
  5. Tencent class
  6. Good-Future – (a software for learning and thinking)
  7. The People's Education Press - electronic teaching materials

A further study evaluating the interactive effect of teaching found that the richer the interactive form, the better its evaluation effect. Among these seven categories of online education products, only those comprehensive counseling/instruction with products has a significant positive impact on the interaction effect. The top three methods with the most significant implications were content-based disciplines such as Tencent Classroom, social tools such as WeChat and comprehensive guidance such as homework.

More than half respondents (N=1553) expected online education to be less effective than study at school (iiMedia Research, 2020, March, resources from http://report.iimedia.cn)


Significantly, both primary and secondary school teachers reported using tutoring products' courses to improve their teaching design and recommended sharing the teaching content of these products with students. By late April 2020, all Chinese schools resumed classes. While the national medical and health system withstood the COVID-19 pandemic through prevention and control, a national "reverse course" revolution took place in education. The ambiguity of living through the pandemic forced almost all teaching tasks to the Internet. However, the question remains:

Can online interconnection bring about sufficient interaction, allowing knowledge to exceed indeed the limits of screens, time, and space?

Respondents (N=1553) considered the online learning atmosphere the most salient disadvantage (iiMedia Research, 2020, March, resources from http://report.iimedia.cn)

         

The Spring 2020 school year just ended on July 13, 2020, in China. Teachers and students mainly focused on studying to complete grade-level tests. However, the VUCA of the online education programs and lack of interaction between the teachers and students and their peers rendered online learning a “mixed result” in terms of success. While online courses certainly solved the short-term problem of COVID-19 disruptions, online education, in general, still has a long way to go to prepare the Chinese public school teaching community that EdTech will replace school as we know it.

Observations from Macao, SAR

With the rapid response of the Macao government to the outbreak of COVID-19, the delayed opening of the new semester did not stop students' learning progress. Online teaching was rapidly adopted by higher education institutions and K-12 schools, following the similar call of "Suspending Classes Without Stopping Learning."

The transition from main face-to-face to complete online teaching and learning interactions required educational professionals to demonstrate abilities and skills which were quite different from usual. Although some local middle schools included online components in daily operations, many educators at K-12 and higher education levels had few related experiences and professional training.

According to Moore (1993), educators need to deliver teaching process while managing decreased learning-teaching interaction and develop strategies to increase the learners' engagement and outcomes. Since the outbreak deeply influenced individuals' well-being, online learning teaching needs to manage risk factors to learners, such as the feeling of isolation and overloaded by off-line works. Therefore, some higher education initiated pedagogical responses, such as "flipped classroom”, besides literately moving the lecturing and interactive contents to an online platform.

Online References

  1. https://hbr.org/2014/09/a-framework-for-understanding-vuca
  2. http://www.c3l.uni-oldenburg.de/cde/found/moore93.pdf
  3. https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/quarantined-chinas-online-education-in-the-pandemic/
  4. http://edu.gmw.cn/2020-04/02/content_33708443.htm

Interactive Teaching refers to the process of dynamic interaction between teaching and learning and the communication of interactive activities. By adjusting the relationship between teachers and students and their interaction, a harmonious teacher-student interaction, student-student interaction, learning individual and teaching intermediary and teaching environment forms to achieve the purpose of improving the teaching effect.

Please see our APCDA Leadership page for information about the co-authors.


Moving through and beyond
COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 15

By Joseph Chan


The following article, written by our APCDA Country/Area Council representative for Hong Kong, Mr. Joseph Chan, represents the fifteenth for an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Mr. Chan lives in Hong Kong.

As of Thursday July 16th, Hong Kong’s third wave of the COVID-19 infections soared to a record high with more than half untraceable. “The surge in cases recently has prompted the Department of Health on Thursday to change its quarantine policy for people returning from high-risk areas, such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Such arrivals would have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotel rooms rented by the government, instead of at quarantine centres.” (https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/3093409/hong-kong-third-wave-about-50-new-cases).

Changes in quarantine policy, social-distancing guidelines, mask wearing and working from home are among the many changes faced by those of us living in Hong Kong since the first wave of COVID-19 hit in January 2020. The pandemic has also challenged the way Hong Kong career professionals provide service to final year students. The negative impact on the graduate employment market for our final year students is expected to last till end of this year, across all sectors. Preparing these graduates professionally, personally and psychologically is especially daunting for Hong Kong career practitioners in private colleges because resources and manpower are in short supply. The overall strategy we employed was “back to basics in career guidance and continuous self-development in the meantime”.

Continuing to keep in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), this article submission is a brief account of our humble attempt to assist our 2020 graduates.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Virtual Efforts

  • Career Planning as a Whole
    The first activity we employed to reach our 2020 graduates was a zoom talk on Career Planning as a whole, with a simple career planning process, the key concepts and skill for each component, plus the resources available within and without the college, to encourage continuous career exploration. The session was supported by basic ppt, simple exercises, self-reflective checklist, and golden quotations, as sources of inspirations.
  • Integrating Reflection
    Before any career exploration, students were encouraged to reflect briefly on the meaning of a university education, a career and ultimately life. This reflection activity give them a purpose and direction in the session. Having some ideas on these three key questions will help them to make decisions, and prioritize choices with clarity and precision. We also helped them to identify the factors influencing their career choice and exploration. Peer, family, teacher, examination results, vocational values, life style preference, personality were briefly highlighted.
  • Including Qualitative Measures
    To ensure a more comprehensive and in-depth understanding of self, participants were encouraged to adopt simple qualitative measures like keeping a diary, a career idea notebook, one hundred sentences on self, etc., which they could do on their own. The session made it crystal clear to them that self-awareness and understanding is a life-long process, resulting in a healthy and realistic self-concept which has a pervasive influence on their life.
  • Incorporating 21st Century Characteristics
    Since career is a life-long interactive process between self and society, the importance of opportunity awareness was emphasized along with a basic discussion of the characteristics of the 21st century, especially regarding the world of work. This exploration was divided into five levels:  global, local, industry, organization and professions, with lots of leads for internet search.
  • Forming Career Insight Groups
  • After these two explorations into self and the world of work, opportunities for further learning were introduced with the help of Must-Do Checklist job search. At this stage, we found it appropriate to form Career Insight Groups on common career fields to encourage further exploration through mutual support, under the guidance of a career counselor of academic staff.
  • Individual Discussion Opportunities, too!
    With Career being individual and personal because are born different, we recognize that our career paths in life are different. So, apart from the open career planning workshop and Career Insight Group, the next intervention we utilized for our 2020 graduates was at an individual level. CV clinic, Mock Interview, and CareerChat opportunities allowed student to have multiple short, sharp discussions with a Career Center colleague on literally anything related to career planning for 2020 and beyond. The content of the discussions ranged from informational to personal, technical to strategic and could develop into a coaching, mentoring or personal development counseling; depending on the needs of the student and the professionalism of the career advisor. As a result of the growing popularity of this service, a Three-minute CareerChat approach has been developed locally.
  • Online Worksheets Provided
    Apart from the above Zoom-based career interventions, a few simple and short reflection worksheets on career planning, self-understanding, internship, tips and hints on popular jobs have been put online for internal use by students of the colleges.

Hope the above short description is of interest to you because of its simplicity and feasibility. You are welcome to contact me for further details (careerchat@outlook.com, mobile: 852-96507507, WhatsApp).

Joseph Chan Kai Nin, APCDA Hong Kong Representative, has over forty years of experience in human resources management in the private sector and career counseling at the University of Hong Kong and City University of Hong Kong plus career counseling training in both the secondary and tertiary sector in Hong Kong and China. He holds a master’s degree in business administration, counseling and education and fellow membership in the HK Institute of HRM and HK Professional Counselling Association.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19
Global Employment Effects, Part 14

By Momoko Asaka

The following article, written by our APCDA Secretary, Momoko Asaka, represents the fourteenth instalment (and fifth submission from Japan—see Parts 13, 11, 8 and 6) for an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Ms. Asaka lives in Kita-ku.

As of July 9th, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has confirmed 20,719 positive cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Although the global pandemic’s state of emergency was lifted here in Japan at the end of May and the traveling across prefectures has been allowed since the end of June, the use of Shinkansen (Bullet trains) and airplanes for business trips are still at low levels. Yet, slowly and gradually our country’s economic activities are resuming.

Continuing to keep in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), this article submission summarizes the present situation brought by COVID-19 and how the companies I have supported as CEO of Véritéworks (a mental health, career and labor counseling and information system development service) deal with the pandemic. Also, I will share some future considerations for career counselors in this tough time.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Sharing, Comparing and Contrasting Pre- & COVID Counseling Satisfaction

Since the pandemic hit, Véritéworks has seen and continues to see an increase in online and telephone counseling consultations. Pre-COVID, online and phone consultations were secondary, while face-to-face consultations were greatly primal.

Additionally, Véritéworks staff have clearly noticed that there is a considerable difference in the level of proficiency of counselors and clients when they use online tools for counseling sessions. Naturally, the forced use of online tools has brought some gaps in client satisfaction levels. Our staff also has noted that satisfaction levels depend upon whether or not the client is being seen for a first-time interview or for an ongoing, regular consultation session. Personally, I, myself, found and still find it difficult to conduct an initial client interview online.

For Véritéworks clients who had been receiving face-to-face counseling before COVID-19, there was no big difference when their in-person counseling was replaced with online. In fact, many of these clients found it easier because they enjoyed the ease of virtually ‘meeting’ from home.

Compared to pre-COVID, mental health counseling topics have been increasingly brought up by Véritéworks clients seen since COVID. Specifically, the topics are related to work from home and harassment. Then clients’ career path concerns follow.

Working from home also has affected worker self-control; elevating its importance because consistent worker performance is not visible nor as readily apparent. Supervisors are not in the same room to immediately check worker performance. This means worker self-control is required. Though some people can control themselves well, regretfully, there are others who cannot.

Speaking of work styles, there is a great deal of stress regarding the compulsory response to digitalization (a sense of duty). This is especially noticeable in middle and senior age groups – 50 & over. These groups felt that they should have been required to adjust into digitalization and online systematization before the pandemic forced them to do so. At the same time, however, these groups also fervently believed that could have gotten away with not adapting if ONLY the pandemic had not struck! (Perhaps COVID-forced tech skill development is a 2020 résumé add on?)

The number of consultations regarding future careers of non-regular employees has also increased with COVID. Those who have been working for a long time as non-regular worker are finding it difficult to get a new job. In particular, the number of office clerk positions has dramatically declined.

The Japanese fiscal year starts in April. In Part 13 of this APCDA News/Moving Through and Beyond COVID series, Yoshinobu Ooi shared that new graduates join a company in April right after their graduation in March. Then they have job training until June. After that, the new hires are assigned to a department. These three months (sometime six months) are considered as ‘a trial period’ by many companies. After the trial period, the new employees are officially hired. This is Japan’s normal schedule and system in our country’s working environment, but it was not like that this late spring/early summer.

Some of Japan’s new 2020 hires have been told that they can’t work after their trial period ends. Some of these hires expressed their worries about this situation during their Véritéworks counseling sessions. The Japanese Government has tried to set up some countermeasures for COVID-19’s Suspensions of Employment and Lay Off. One of them is use of a support system called ‘Subsidy for Unemployment’ which is covered with employment insurance. This support system helps companies who were forced by COVID’s effects to reduce their economic activities and asks the company’s employees to stay home. The wages of their employees are partly covered with the subsidy. In order to take advantage of this support system, a company needs to meet certain conditions such as 10% or more decline in sales for a three-month period and an advanced submission of an office closure plan. However, during the current COVID caused economic crisis, these conditions have been significantly eased.

Sharing some of Japan’s Career Counselor history & future, 2001-2021

Japan’s Human Resources Development policies and actions are stated in its "Basic Plan for Human Resources Development". The plan is formulated and promulgated every half-decade in Japan.

'Career Counseling' plans were stated for the first time in 2001; in the seventh "Basic Plan for Human Resources Development". The role of the plan was to solve the high rate of unemployment at that time. Career Counseling was described 'as part of the employment support for employment stability and extension'.

In the eighth "Basic Plan for Human Resources Development” (2006), the role of mental health was introduced as a way to improve working environment issues. Mental health was linked to career support as a way of developing an environment where ‘workers could grow up'.

In the ninth plan (2011), the role of career counselors broadened to include being responsible for supporting both vocational and life matters of employed workers throughout their lives or life stages. This was a part of 'a measure to support lifetime career development' which looked ahead to extending one's work period due to the low birth rate and aging of Japan’s population.

In the tenth plan (2016), career counselors were further called upon to support, maintain and improve the national strength by not only interacting with individual employed workers but also by boosting productivity of business entities. Corresponding to this notion, 'career counselor' was realized as 'career consultant' and as one of the national qualifications in the same year.

Effective as of 2020, the following four requirements have been added in the existing ability requirements of career counselors.

  1. Conducting Self Career Dock for career support in corporate entities (Japan’s Self Career Dock system requires companies to provide career counseling to their employees on a regular basis: age, years at the company, getting promoted etc. This will bring 'self-awareness' to employed workers in their career development.)
  2. Accelerating recurrent education for lifelong study
  3. Expanding lifelong career, balancing work and study or other life events /Supporting the balance between work and raising children which fosters caring parents
  4. Knowledge or skills to deal with diversity of clients

The next Basic Plan, the eleventh plan, will come out in 2021. It seems that new ability requirements and changes will be reflected on the plan. The proposed differences are related to attitudes and values regarding how employed workers work or live in the socioeconomic environment moving through COVID-19’s continuing impact.

Required Support to Career Counselors in the Future

Considering the current and ongoing COVID reality, the role of experts providing career support must require deeper and evolutionary development. This is because the experience of previous stereotypical models and career supporters are no longer applicable in choosing how people work and live.

With significant changes in the socioeconomic environment, Japan’s aging population combined with its diminishing birthrate, as well as the longer working period in one's life, it is difficult for 'a counselor' to support and cover every single aspect of employed workers throughout their lives or life stages. For example, in the case of supporting middle aged workers with problems such as income disparity, poverty, caring for their elderly family, increase in the number of single parent households, differences in physical health such as dementia . . . it is too complicated.

Therefore, it is a matter of how experts in different fields can cooperate and collaborate with each other to support a single employed worker. In the future, counselors will be required to acquire skills in communication technology, IT and AI in order to better help those they will serve.

Continuing to Move through COVID

Japan’s experience with COVID has made it clear that we can no longer take for granted conventional wisdom. From now on, counselors will need to help individuals foster their self-restrain ability in terms of human resource development whether they work from home or not. In addition, career counselors will be required to provide support to help workers clarify their self-concept and raise their energy to seek what they want to be in the future, even in this ongoing, unpredictably changing social environment.

COVID-19 is external factor which people cannot handle on their own. It means counselors need to advise workers how to cope with stress. In other words, it is important for workers to learn to develop self-efficacy and their expectations of favorable outcomes in order to cope with their stresses. However, it is also important for business entities to have 'group' self-efficacy and expectations of favorable outcome for the same reasons. Counselors will need to continue their own professional development to be able to provide support to both individual workers and corporations.


Momoko Asaka, APCDA Secretary and CEO of Veriteworks, is also a former APCDA Country Director for Japan. Ms Asaka graduated in Arts in Library and Information Science from Keio University, Japan. She is a JCDA Certified Career Development Adviser, JPA Certified Psychologist, Mental Health Legal Advisor and Health and Productivity Management Advisor. Momoko started her independent mental health, career and labor counseling and information system development service after working first as a medical corporation staff member, then as a HR staff member of a company that listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange 1st section and a finally as a HR director of private IT company. Ms Asaka incorporated her independent service as Véritéworks in 2014. Utilizing 20 years of experience in the counseling field, Momoko provides career and mental health counseling for corporate clients, she delivers seminars, writes articles and executes memorable media appearances. She is a big fan of Snoopy; sharing Snoopy comic stories to in both her counseling sessions and her seminars.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19
Global Employment Effects, Part 13

By Yoshinobu Ooi

The following article, written by our APCDA Country/Area Council representative for Japan, Yoshinobu Ooi, represents the thirteenth instalment (and Mr. Ooi’s second submission—see Part 6) for an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Mr. Ooi lives in Tokyo.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to change how we go about our daily lives. However, I am reminded of Martin Luther's following words . . .

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces,
I would still plant my apple tree.”

And even while COVID-19 has impacted job search activities, it has not eliminated them here in Japan (or elsewhere around the globe from what I read in our APCDA weekly NEWS and other publications). Continuing to keep in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), this article submission focuses on job hunting and reports on the NEW normal for corporate hiring in Japan without indicating organization or individual names.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Employment in Japan

In Japan, employment usually refers to an implicit employment contract in which a company hires in April after a student graduates from school in March. The contract or employment continues without interruption until retirement age. Some terms and phrases that have shaped employment in Japan follow. They are meant to ensure safety, teamwork, alignment, improvement and medium- to long-term organizational success. Before a student graduates and is hired by a company, a student typically conducted job hunting while attending school and selected a company offer from receiving several.

A Japanese company imposes some steps for student applicants to help with narrowing down those students are recruited and receive an offer. These steps or activities for students to find employment in a company are defined as SYU-KATSU (SYUsyoku-KATSUdou). The abbreviated form of the term is very familiar to young people.

Focusing on job hunting activities within universities and professional schools, school supporters, who supported job hunting activities, and recruiting staff from corporations, were interviewed and the changes to this process that have taken place as a result of COVID-19 are shared following the typical hiring process.

Major patterns of recruitment in Japan

Pre-COVID, SYU-KATSU typically began with the submission of an applicant entry sheet, continued with several interviews and included one written test. Throughout the several interviews, there are a number of steps. What the steps include as well as the exact number is dependent upon the hiring company. Some companies decide twice. Others decide more. However, all company interviews end with an officer interview.

COVID-19’s impact

As shared in previous installments for this series from Japan, the COVID-19 state of emergency was officially announced in early April, but it was after mid-March that the governors of major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo and Osaka, requested citizens refrain from going out. This request affected our country’s 2020 employees who were beginning their implicit April employment contracts. Most affected were new employees and naturally, the corporate recruiters and trainers. Next affected were the students engaged in job hunting for 2021 and the school job hunting supporters.

Japan’s 2020 employees, beginning their April contracts, were unable to meet in person with their fellow new hires for their new company’s Entrance Ceremony event and for the beginning face-to-face team building exercises and activities. Their trainers had to quickly devise online experiences that tried to mimic their usually provided experiential training sessions but turned out to be poor substitutes. Virtual training without hands-on practice left new hires feeling less connected to their teammates as well as less connected to their new company.

Surprisingly and thankfully, though, few new 2020 hires experienced canceled hiring contracts. If a company’s business performance deteriorates in the near future, this may change for the next fiscal year. SYU-Katsu for joining a company in April 2021 already has been delayed.

Students seeking, now delayed, April 2021 hiring offers do have some time and money advantages compared to their pre-COVID predecessors. In the past, students have had wait until after their daytime classes to take evening transportation to company interview sites. Upon arrival, they would spend the night, take a few hours for next day, job search activities and return using evening transportation to report back to school the following day. COVID-19 caused job search interviews to become virtual, online ones. Currently, three days and tens of thousands of Japanese Yen is being eliminated. April 2021 job seeking students are now interviewing with more than one company in a single day from the comfort of their homes.

Recruiters for April 2021 are somewhat floundering. As previously stated in this article, the type and number of future employment opportunities is based upon business performance. In the wake of COVID-19, the impact on business performance, let alone business strategy, is unclear. In fact, many companies have not gotten around to SYU-Katsu. Those that began the hiring process, though, have experienced an increase in the number of applicant entry sheets and beginning interviews. Additionally, they have saved money by not being able to visit schools in person to talk with student for briefing sessions. Online discussions with students have cut company costs.

School job search supporters join students and recruiters seeking April 2021 employment opportunities in the following statement summarizing these unprecedented times. “Due to the influence of COVID-19, the advantages and disadvantages of time and place for job hunting became smaller. In addition, there is more opportunity to think deeply about self in relation to selecting the ‘best for self’ company offer and to think strategically about company needs in submitting offers to candidates who are the best fit for the company.”

Personally, I predict that SYU-KATSU will continue online for the most part and also will include some face to face experiences so students can get a feel for the atmosphere of the company and its corporate culture.


Yoshinobu Ooi is a Freelance Career Counselor and Management Consultant. After obtaining a master's degree in electronic information engineering, he worked for more than 20 years at a Global telecommunications & Cloud service company in Japan. In time, he was assigned to the Human Resources Department and became responsible for new employee training. Mr. Ooi has since obtained his CDA qualification and completed the MBA course at Globis University. He now supports a wide range of career development for university students and corporate employees. He is also a JCDA member.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19
Global Employment Effects, Part 12

By Catherine Hughes, PhD

The following article, written by our 2020 APCDA Outstanding Newsletter Contributor Award winner, Dr. Catherine Hughes, is part twelve of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global COVID-19 Pandemic. Dr. Hughes lives in West Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.

Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), I wrote this article to support the work of our APCDA Career Practitioners who are supporting clients as they move through and beyond COVID-19.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Chaos Theory in Action

Among the propositions of Chaos Theory of Careers are that an individual’s career trajectory is complex, unpredictable, frequently influenced by chance and subject to non-linear change, such that small changes can have profound outcomes. COVID-19 is Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor and Bright, 2011) in action. As is the case across all affected countries, COVID-19 has been devastating for millions of Australians who have lost their job or are seeking to enter the workforce. These are our clients.


Vision for employment beyond COVID-19

As Career Practitioners, our mission to support clients to negotiate their career in a changing and unpredictable world of work has been brought into sharp focus. Many Career Practitioners have adapted to new ways of working to deliver career services to support clients as they adapt to sudden job loss, reduced work hours, high levels of unemployment, severe economic downturn and uncertainty about where the jobs will be in the future. However, the non-linear change, chance and unpredictability referred to in Chaos Theory of Careers will remain beyond COVID-19. As Career Practitioners our vision is to support clients to prepare for and adapt to employment in a world of work yet to be imagined (Department of Education & Training, 2019).

This means that as we move through and beyond COVID-19, Career Practitioners must support clients to develop their career adaptability resources of concern, control, curiosity and confidence (Savickas, 2002) to prepare them to negotiate an unpredictable and changing employment environment. Further, Savickas (2012, p.14) recommends that Career Practitioners need to support their clients to “… let go of what they did, yet not who they are ...” as they move from one work assignment to the next, prompted by occupational transitions and work traumas (e.g., COVID-19). Savickas explained that holding onto self in the form of a life story provides coherence and continuity and highlights themes that clients can draw on to envision and act upon the next chapter in their career story. Facilitating story telling is our work.

What changes do you anticipate?

While holding onto our vision, Career Practitioners must support clients and deal with practical issues in the ‘here and now’, such as finding sustainable employment as they move through and beyond COVID-19. Speculation about possible changes to employment is difficult in a chaotic environment. Nevertheless, as the economy slowly opens up, many of the jobs lost to business downturn may be restored, although there is uncertainty as to how many will be restored. It is possible that some of the changes adopted by businesses as a result of COVID-19 may become a more permanent feature of Australian working life, e.g., more opportunities to work remotely, a greater number of online collaborations. Similarly, changes observed during COVID-19, such as an increase in online retail and stronger interest in locally produced goods may continue. Labor market statistics may reveal changes in employment by industry and employment by occupation profiles in Australia, including employment projections. One change that a number of commentators are predicting here is a further increase in unemployment as the Australian Government reduces the financial support it has provided to enable employers to retain staff during business downturn over the last few months. Skills and knowledge in locating labor market information such as this is one of the core competencies required by all Australian professional Career Practitioners.

What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?

Currently, the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment is providing a range of services on its websites to support workers who have been stood down or who have lost their jobs. It is vital that Career Practitioners keep up-to-date with these sources of labor market information and labor market preparation. For example, The Government’s Jobs Hub (https://www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/jobs-hub), Labour Market Information Portal (https://lmip.gov.au), Job Jumpstart (https://www.jobjumpstart.gov.au) and Job Outlook (https://joboutlook.gov.au) websites are examples of resources that inform Career Practitioners and their clients of who is currently hiring in Australia, jobs advertised in all towns and cities throughout Australia over the last week, the skills needed for these jobs, tips on how to be flexible when looking for work, how skills gained in one role are transferable to other roles, and so on. In addition, there are daily news reports and economic analyses that Career Practitioners need to keep abreast of to support their clients. Career Practitioners also need to become aware of free online courses introduced as a result of COVID-19 that may enhance their client’s employment prospects.

Career Practitioners may need to build their clients’ capacity to apply the principles of Happenstance Learning Theory (Krumboltz, 2009). Supporting clients to plan exploratory actions they can take that may be beneficial to their career outcomes, such as networking with people (face-to-face or online), volunteering, making direct approaches to employers, enrolling in a free course, attending events and webinars, informational interviews, etc. Applying planned happenstance is a way that our clients may be able to gain employment via informal methods such as ‘word of mouth’, by letting people know they are looking for work or by upskilling.

What opportunities do you see?

The success of remote work, online team meetings, online classes and online career counseling in response to COVID-19 offers Career Practitioners the opportunity to extend the range of services they offer and the opportunity to reach clients from further afield; provided ethical standards of careers practice are maintained. Similarly, online and remote work may also be beneficial for some of our clients, such as clients who are balancing work and family commitments or clients who live in rural or regional areas.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

We are indeed living in chaotic times. Career Practitioners are tasked with helping clients prepare for a world of work yet to be imagined. We need to support clients to develop their adaptability resources, and revise their career story as they respond to changes in employment. At the same time, we need to keep up-to-date with evolving labor market information and support our clients through the practicalities of adapting quickly to a rapidly changing and difficult to predict employment environment. Although a challenging time for Career Practitioners, COVID-19 is also presenting us with new opportunities for how we deliver our career services.

References

Department of Employment & Training (2010). National Career Education Strategy. https://schooltowork.employment.gov.au/ .

Krumboltz, J. D. (2009). The planned happenstance learning theory. Journal of Career Assessment, 17(2), 135-154. DOI: 1177/1069072708328861.

Pryor, R. & Bright, J. (2011). The chaos theory of careers: A new perspective on working in the twenty-first century. NY: Routledge.

Savickas, M. L. (2002). Career construction theory. In D. Brown (Ed.). Career choice and development (4th ed., pp. 149-205). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc.

Savickas, M. L. (2012). Life Design: A paradigm for career intervention in the 21st century. Journal of Counseling and Development, 90, 13-19.

Savickas, M. L. (2012). Life Design: A paradigm for career intervention in the 21st century. Journal of Counseling and Development, 90, 13-19.

Dr Catherine Hughes has worked in the field of career education and career counseling for more than 30 years across a variety of settings including education, outplacement, vocational rehabilitation and private practice. She is the founder of the Grow Careers website for Australian school communities and author of books on careers work in schools and career development resources to support the work of school-based career practitioners. Catherine writes career development content to support the career development of high school students and teachers delivering career education content in her home state of Tasmania.

Currently, Catherine is a Sessional course Leader for the Graduate Certificate in Career Education and Development at RMIT University. She is the recent recipient of APCDA’s Outstanding Newsletter Contributor Award. Her educational background includes a doctorate in vocational psychology. Her careers work in schools and her research have been published in academic journals and career practitioner publications. She has been selected to present at national and international conferences. Catherine has mentored career practitioners and students completing post-graduate study in career development.


Moving through and beyond
COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 11

By Kazuyo Ikeda

The following article, written by one of our NEW APCDA members, Kazuyo Ikeda, is part eleven of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global COVID-19 Pandemic. Ms. Ikeda lives in Shinjuku-ku, Japan.

Let me begin by adding my thanks to those recently expressed by the World Health Organization’s Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during his June 17th media briefing for the welcome news of positive initial results from the RECOVERY trial in the United Kingdom. During these unprecedented times, it is inspiring to experience global governments, hospitals, researchers, patients, families and communities continuing to work collaboratively and cooperatively. I very much believe, we here, through our APCDA membership, are part of the overall, global solidarity effort that will help overcome this COVID-19 pandemic. I also want to thank you, my fellow APCDA members, for the opportunity to share the unique way I have been coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic in my home country of Japan. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) my NEW Normal follows and includes intentionality.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Similar country, regional and global aftermath

In the aftermath of the Japanese government’s early April emergency declaration due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and early May lifting of the declaration, I, like so many of my fellow Japanese citizens, continue to deal with the pandemic’s many challenges. However, my active participation in APCDA and Japan Career Development Association (JCDA) activities as well as paying close and careful attention to local, regional and global print and digital media sources helped me realize that at this mid-June period of time, like other countries throughout the Asia Pacific region and around the globe, our country’s overall focus on restarting economic activities while maintaining community safety is not unique. It is being shared at the regional and global level, too. We truly are all in this together!

Even at the local level

I would like to share with you a recent local experience to demonstrate how individuals can participate in fostering economic support. Visiting my local salon to FINALLY cut my hair served to change my attitude from feeling powerless to feeling empowered. During my salon visit, I come face-to-face with how the pandemic adversely affected not only a business, but also many worker’s careers within the business.

In chatting with owner of the salon, I asked about one of his assistants who had worked with him for several years. I found that she not only left the salon, but also relocated back to her hometown. I heard how the salon was limping along with less clients due to a number of reasons: fear, distance, risk of train travel and some having compromised immune systems. The ongoing need for social distancing also was wreaking havoc with salon finances. The owner had to decrease the number of chairs in the salon and the number of client reservations at any one time. He also mentioned the time-consuming process that needed to take place after every hair cut which included wiping up the chair and other items a client typically touches with alcohol infused tissue. For these many revenue decreasing reasons, the salon assistants were paid less and the owner, himself, earned much less.

Practicing intentionality

After I hearing the salon owner’s story, I asked him how I can be more helpful and support the salon. We talked for a while and we agreed that I could make reservations at least one week prior to needing service. This would allow the owner time to better plan work schedules and salon/chair occupancy.

Since this salon experience, I continue to use intention. I ask questions and listen. Intention can make the  difference!


Kazuyo Ikeda is a certified career consultant and peer facilitator of Japan Career Development Association (JCDA). Joining JCDA in 2018, she currently is engaged in planning and managing training programs for career consultants. Most of her prior work experience was in the institutional business field at financial institutions including Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Kazuyo earned MSc in Industrial Relations from London School of Economics and Political Science. Her BA is in French Literature from Sophia University (Tokyo, Japan).


Moving through and beyond
COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 10

By Vijay Keshaorao Paralkar

The following article, written by one of our U.S. APCDA members who has been “stuck” in his home country of India since early March, is part ten of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global CO-VID 19 Pandemic.

Let me begin by echoing my previous series writers’ heartfelt wishes for ongoing health and safety to each and every one of you within our APCDA family as we all continue to cope during this unprecedented time. I also want to extend a BIG thanks to my professors and supervisor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Miami University. All were very kind and generous in extending my graduate assistantship support for one more semester (which is very unusual) and allowing me to defend my dissertation in October 2020. Lastly, I want to send love and thanks to my wife, who, like me, has been coping individually with this COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike me, she also has been managing new modes of teaching and learning in her recent faculty posting.

I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share the unique way I have been coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic in my home country of India. It takes a community to fight a pandemic. While we may be at arm's length and behind a mask, we are all answering the call, coming together to care for one another. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) my NEW Normal follows; beginning with the challenges that have affected both my work and my life.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

A Home Visit Becomes So Much More

I am writing this article from Nashik city located near Mumbai in Maharashtra state, India. Initially, I had made plans to visit India to attend our 2020 APCDA annual conference in Faridabad, New Delhi. Since India is my home country, I wanted to spend some additional time visiting and arrived from the U.S. in early March before our conference transitioned to a virtual one. Ever since the Coronavirus hit India, I have been stuck in its national lockdown.

In mid-June, I was supposed to defend my doctoral dissertation and graduate in August. Talk about stress. Thankfully with the support of my graduate school faculty, I was able to postpone my program for one more semester.

Since early March, my wife and I have been forced to stay apart. Since she was unable to join me on my trip to India, she has been living and working from home on her own in the U.S. This has been a testing time for our patience. However, we are trying to cope with the new reality and survive (not naturally flourish) through this time with the help of our mindfulness and meditative practice. We know that this is a temporary phase and that a better tomorrow is definitely waiting for us. We both believe in the learning lessons of Victor E. Frankle from Man’s Search for Meaning that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even those, which are most miserable. This gives us a new hope and purpose for living our life together.

What career counselors and career aspirants can learn from the Covid-19 pandemic

Post COVID-19 pandemic, changes will continue to occur and the shift from a mostly, in-person work culture will continue to become some type of a virtual/in-person mix. These changes will bring new challenges and opportunities for career counselors and their clients. The one most prominent being availability and affordability of technologies and associated expertise at local level, which is currently lacking, within most Asian countries. A second being the rethinking of career needs and choices shifting from highly paid jobs at any place to time with families and meeting basic needs. This raises the question, “are we prepared for the changes?” or “how can we get ready to face these challenges?”

Accepting and adapting to these changes in work culture as a whole will not be easy nor comfortable for the following three reasons:

  1. Availability and affordability of technology and related expertise
    When it comes to use technology, both hardware and software, in most Asian countries, people experience limited data, lack of compatible systems, timely availability of maintenance resources and even, frequent power cuts that affects continuous and smooth working. Also, many organizations and individuals are not able to afford accessing and using the required technologies due to lack of financial resources. Lack of required expertise in order to create and ensure smooth working of the online systems is another challenge. For instance, if I want to get my website designed and operated, very limited expertise is locally available. The little that there is may not be affordable.
  2. Trust in the online systems in the situation of remotely working and fishing scams
    People, particularly those who are new to the use of technologies, often experience fraudulent activities and virus attacks which makes it difficult to develop trust in digital systems over the more conventional in-person model.
  3. Changing career needs in the post COVID-19 world of work
    Although, it’s not new for financial, social, emotional and cultural factors to influence many students to choose local schools instead of high ranked, but geographically distant, schools. Nor is it uncommon to change jobs or reject promotions based on the priorities of family and basic needs. I believe these types of career trends will increase in the post COVID-19 world of work. Therefore, career counselors and practitioners will need to learn new assessment and counseling skills and explore new approaches to meet the challenges these changes present.

Strategies to keep up with the changes

Coping with and adapting to change by learning new things and acquiring new skills requires training and practice. Simultaneously, time is also needed to self-reflect and rethink in terms of our career choices. Migration in search of work was a common phenomenon as people were not able to find (satisfactory) work at the local level. Now, Coronavirus has flipped it. At least in India, many migrants have already returned to their native places without having any possibilities for their jobs.

I talked to many of the migrants while they were, literally, walking hundreds and thousands of miles with their families and basic belongings to reach home. This was one of the most painful experiences in my life to listen to their worries and emotions. They were feeling completely helpless and unsupported at the places of their work. Their uncertainty was real. The treatment that they received from their own employers and the places where they were working could only be described as inhuman.

One migrant woman, holding her child near her chest with tears in her eyes, shared, “It was my mistake to leave our village to search for better paid jobs and better education for my children. But now I realized that people living in my local community are happy. Although they do not earn much, they have strong support for each other.” She further added, “I will never return again and would prefer to live in my village, no matter what job I have.” Her sentiments were eye opening for me. As a career practitioner, I know that work has more than one dimension. I also know that it does not only revolve around money. However, it took the current pandemic to for this migrant woman, and others like her, to learn this reality.

My research on wellness factors affecting international college students in the U.S. has resulted into the similar findings. Immigrant students were more anxious, depressed, academically-impaired and less flourishing compared to domestic students. These findings support the application of Self-Determination Theory (SDT) in career planning and an integrative model on the motivational determinants of health and wellness consequences proposed by Miquelon & Vallerand (2008). This model posits that pursuing autonomous goals enhances wellness, whereas pursuing controlled goals thwarts wellness. This model also posits that self-realization leads to reduced stress. Therefore, application of SDT and an integrative model on the motivational determinants of health and wellness consequences is important in career planning not only for immigrant students but also for other immigrant workers to fulfill their intrinsic aspirations and achieve larger career goals of health and wellness along with occupational needs.

In summary, I would not be surprised to see such career shifts from global to local in near future in search of sustainable and flourishing careers instead of just highly paid jobs at any place in the world. Considering anticipated unique needs of immigrants as well as the changing economic, social and cultural situations around the globe are forcing many of us to reflect on what really matters and what really is required in our careers and lives. career counseling and development centers and organizations will have to appropriately prepare and serve career aspirants for sustainable and satisfactory career planning by understanding and addressing how they will perceive and behave in terms of their careers. In order to respect a new paradigm for career shaping, I believe, an innovative methods of career counseling such as, ‘life space mapping’ proposed by Słowik, A. (2014), which respects life experiences and cultural values of the counselee along with their biographical and professional experience (formal, non-formal and informal) maybe helpful in meeting the challenges of post COVID-19 clients.

References

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Self-determination theory.

Miquelon, P., & Vallerand, R. J. (2008). Goal motives, well-being, and physical health: An integrative model. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(3), 241.

Słowik, A. (2014). “Life space mapping” as an innovative method in career counselling for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 114, 80-85.

(Please look for next week’s eleventh installment of our COVID-19 Global Employment Effects series from one of our new members from Japan, Kazuyo Ikeda.)


Vijay Keshaorao Paralkar is a Ph.D. candidate at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Earlier, he graduated from University of Nebraska Omaha with a MS Counseling degree in student affairs practice in higher education concentration. He is also a career practitioner experienced providing career planning, assessments, exploration and international development to college students, graduates and mid-career professionals. Vijay’s interest in career counseling, teaching, research, and practice focuses on the holistic wellness for shaping sustainable careers and satisfactory lives of international students and the global community.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19
Global Employment Effects, Part 9

By Raza Abbas

The following article, written by Raza Abbas, our APCDA Country/Area Council representative for Pakistan, is part nine of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global COVID 19 Pandemic.


Thank you for the opportunity to share my insights with you, my APCDA family and distinguished global colleagues. I also want to thank you all for the opportunity to share the unique way I have been coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic in my home country of Pakistan. As you all know, COVID-19 has disrupted the world economy in unprecedented ways and has caused immense human tragedy. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) my thoughts as a Global Career Practitioner follow; beginning with some predictions for our global workplace.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Future Employment Beyond COVID-19

I believe employment beyond COVID-19 will include a multitude of opportunities in digitalization, ongoing and new ones in health care and a continuing growth in entrepreneurship - emergence of start-ups. Remote counseling & advising, distance speaking, webinars, virtual conferences & summits, digital marketing and online learning are just some of the many digital employment arenas that will continue to expand. Being digitally qualified will be a necessity to remain competitive and viable in the current and post-COVID job market.

Anticipated Changes Will and Still Include

Securing traditional jobs may continue to become more challenging to acquire and more gig/free-lance career opportunities will continue to emerge resulting in an increase in demand for consultants across diverse industries. To best develop the multi-skills needed for future employment, students currently pursing higher education degrees may want to consider delaying their graduation so they could pursue more coursework, perhaps even a double major, and more hands-on learning opportunities like internships, to demonstrate to future employers that they can apply their classroom knowledge in workplace settings.

HR Vision, https://www.hrvisionevent.com/content-hub/10-job-skills-youll-need-in-2020-and-beyond/, lists the following 10 skills needed in 2020 and beyond to be successful in the World Economic Forum (https://www.weforum.org/)’s predicted Fourth Industrial Revolution: Cognitive Flexibility, Negotiation, Service Orientation, Judgement and Decision-Making, Emotional Intelligence, Coordinating with Others, People Management, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Complex Problem-Solving.

Change Management Strategy

Like me, I hope you all have been using your virus quarantine time to develop and learn new skills. Enhancing your Search Engine Optimization Skills (SEO), your facility with You-Tube Channel use, your ability to run Facebook ads, your skill with developing websites that create sales funnels and your editing skills are time, effort and energy-worthy activities for entre- as well as intra-preneurial growth. Strategic re-branding is necessary to remain competitive in our ongoing digital era.

Remain Visible, Connected, Engaged and Hopeful

Future employment opportunities will be available for those that are visible, connected, engaged and hopeful. To successfully accomplish all of these things, it is most important to take care of self: your physical and emotional health and your mental as well as spiritual well-being.

Raza Abbas, is a Lifetime as well as a very active member in APCDA. In addition to his Country/Area Council work on behalf of Pakistan, he has teamed with our members to select APCDA international conference proposals, written and submitted previous news articles and supported our standards task force which compared standards and competencies in our field adopted by other associations like ours, so we could develop our own standards. Mr. Abbas is also an APCDA Outstanding Career Practitioner Award recipient. His additional honors include being a selected participant in two different United Nations efforts:  the UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace and the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)’s flagship Annual Entrepreneurship Education Meeting.

Mr. Abbas’ committed servant leadership additionally extends to three more global career development organizations. He is an active member of the National Career Development Association (NCDA), where he serves on three committees: Global Connections, Government Relations and Technology. His ongoing dedication to inspire and empower individuals around the world to achieve their career and life goals, as well as his significant contributions to NCDA, resulted in his being selected as their International Career Practitioner of the Year Award for 2019. He also serves on the Board of the Asian Regional Association for Career Development as the Director for Pakistan. Finally, Mr. Abbas actively participates as an Editorial Board member of the International Association for Educational & Vocational Guidance.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19
Global Employment Effects, Part 8

By Kunimitsu Kuki

The following article, written by one of our NEW APCDA members, Kunimitsu Kuki, is part eight of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global CO-VID 19 Pandemic. Mr. Kuki lives in Osaka City, Japan.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the way we all live and work, I wanted to begin my article sharing how I have been coping with my current NORMAL by extending heartfelt appreciation to you, my fellow APCDA members, for allowing me the kind and generous opportunity to begin to realize one of my goals as a developing career consultant. I had hoped to expand my career consulting beyond Japan. Recently joining APCDA, receiving a new membership orientation, reading Allan Gatenby’s May 3rd APCDA News article requesting we consider becoming actively involved in our association and being asked to write and submit this article is providing me with the “gift” to do just that. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), my front-line report of my current NORMAL follows.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?
  • Pandemic Beginnings

    On April 7th, 2020, the Japanese government declared a State of Emergency. All stores were requested to close except daily use products stores like supermarkets, drug stores and convenience stores. Except for their food sections, department stores and General Merchandise Stores (GMS) also closed. Due to the many closures, some companies, like the cosmetic and toiletry company where I work, stopped dispatching sales staff to various stores across the country. These staff were told they needed to stay at and work from home. How do they work at home?

    Pandemic Prologue

    Before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit Japan, I had been working with my cosmetic and toiletry company for more than 30 years in a variety of positions. For the past several years, I had been teaming with our company’s work group of 38 counselors, stationed all over Japan, to provide individual, once a year services to all company staff. With our sales division and our office workers, each of us counselors typically set up 50-minute sessions during the work day and met with four staff per day. With our Beauty Advisors, we either provided counseling during the time they visited the office for training OR asked them to stop in the area office closest to the store where they regularly reported. I, myself, am stationed in Osaka with 5 other counselors: 4 women and 1 other man. Like our counseling counterparts throughout the country, our Osaka counseling team covers 6 areas. Our team provided services in Osaka, Kobe(Hyogo), Kyoto, Shiga, Nara and Wakayama. There are company branch offices in these areas.

    Moving Through and Maintaining Service During the Pandemic

    Immediately after our country’s State of Emergency was declared and before any of our other cosmetic house competitors, my cosmetic and toiletry company stopped dispatching our Beauty Advisors. Our counseling team was concerned that the advisors were worrying about their situation. Although we no longer could provide face to face support, a recent, pre-pandemic foray by our company into digital devices like smart tablets or smart phones for all staff, allowed our counseling team to consider providing REMOTE counseling services. Initially though, we worried that this method of counseling would not allow us to notice important non-verbal cues and reactions. We were also concerned about maintaining confidentiality.

    Our company’s Information Systems division helped build our comfort with providing REMOTE counseling by helping with our confidentiality issue. They recommended the use of Microsoft Teams which offered secure connections. Much discussion among our counseling team further enhanced our confidence with REMOTE counseling. We all realized that REMOTE counseling would require us to deeply focus and concentrate and become even more careful listeners. Even though our smart devices’ video functions would allow seeing our Beauty Advisors, staying at home meant they, themselves, did not use make-up, so many only wanted to connect through the voice component.

    I, myself, quickly found that careful, concentrated, focused listening allowed me to hear words, hear breathing and yes, hear feelings. Feedback our counseling teams heard from our Beauty Advisors included appreciation of our company’s decision to stay at and work from home. Although their company-assigned work at home was minimal, taking just a few hours and only involving only a few tasks such as studying new products specifically and beauty in general, many advisors were also taking care of small children or old parents at home. These advisors were having a difficult time concentrating on their tasks. Other advisors did not have WIFI access. Still others shared how they enjoyed having the time to review their knowledge about beauty and study the proposed launching of new products in the privacy of their own homes.

    Initial Advisor Feedback ALSO Included . . .

    “At the beginning, I felt uncomfortable because I had a hard time getting use to studying at a desk at home. But, overall, it has been a good time for me to review. We use Microsoft Teams to do role playing and practice how to explain new products to customers.”

    “I have a 7 years-old son. He was supposed to start attending a primary school in April. But with the pandemic, he needed to stay at home. Because he always was beside me during the day, I found I could not concentrate on my ‘home’ work. This caused me to become irritated and scold my son him repeatedly. I knew that I was wrong. But I couldn’t help myself.”

    “My husband also stayed at and worked from home. Our small children played around him while he met remotely with others. Because the children popped up on the screen, he became embarrassed. So I started to take care of them. Later, our family would spend time together and enjoy lunch and dinner together, too. In a sense, it was a good time for our family.”


    Continuing Service and Ongoing Feedback

    After a few weeks passed, some Beauty Advisors began to share their worry about their customers. Others’ feelings changed day by day. Since our company was the first one to stop dispatching them to the stores, some advisors felt their customers might feel inconvenienced. The advisors felt sorry for their customers. They always cared for their customers as if they were family members or very close friends. Using their stay at home time to to think about their customers caused some realize that it is not necessary for customers to visit a the stores to buy beauty products. Many Beauty Advisors are now thinking that when they return to their stores to see their customers, they really would like to show their appreciation much more than before.

    State of Emergency Lifted and a New World Order Resulted

    On May 23rd, the State of Emergency was lifted.

    A couple of days later, I visited some department stores. Not many customers were around buying cosmetics. All the testers of the products were covered with plastic and customers could no longer sample them. Beauty Advisors wore masks and some of them wore eyeglasses for hay fever protection. The advisors could no longer touch a customer’s face to provide a make-over.

    Some of the Beauty Advisors I met with during my store visits shared the following . . .

    “When a customer asked for assistance with UV products, I stepped forward as usual to explain product information. But the customer quickly and purposely stepped back a few steps as if I was infected. I didn’t feel anything at that moment. After I thought about it, I realized I would probably do the same action. Later though, as I washed my hands, I felt as if I had been socked. Then I felt sad. I hope the normal returns soon.”

    “After not being at the counter for about a month, one of my regular customer came by and talked with me for more than an hour; sharing more about her life staying at home than I really needed to hear. With my working hours now being limited, I was unable to finish my paperwork and other jobs that needed to be done. But I could not deny my customer. Although I was happy to see my customer, I felt a bit irritated because I could not finish my jobs before I left for home.”


    The world changed. Not only our company, but the entire beauty industry needs to now seek new way to advise customers. And our counseling staff is going to be kept busy as staff feelings continue to be unstable as all of us continue to cope with the new world order. Our counseling staff is looking forward to integrating our newly developed style of focused listening into our face to face work. And we are even considering continuing to use REMOTE counseling when appropriate.

    (Please look for next week’s ninth installment of our COVID-19 Global Employment Effects series from our Pakistan Country/Area Council representative, Raza Abbas.)


    Kunimitsu Kuki, as a teenage exchange student, lived in Napoleon, Ohio, U.S. After graduating from Napoleon High School, he returned to Japan to complete a Psychology major from a private university in Kyoto, Doshisha University. Securing a sales and marketing position with Kanebo Cosmetics, Co., Ltd, he initially was stationed in Hong Kong for 8 years and covered the following ASEAN countries: Cambodia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. During the course of his employment, his company sent him to Oxford to learn British English. He was promoted to President of Kanebo Cosmetics (Thailand), Co., Ltd. and stationed in Bangkok, Thailand for 2 years.

    After the posting, Mr. Kuki continued with Kanebo Cosmetics in Kao Group Customer Marketing Co and became a company counselor in 2016. He also became licensed as a certified psychologist that year. In 2018, Mr. Kuki additionally became licensed as an industrial counselor. Through Japan Career Development Association training, he also became a career consultant that same year. Two years later, in April 2020, he joined APCDA. Currently, Mr. Kuki would like to support people who work overseas, foreigners who work in Japan and university students who are looking for employment. In the future, he hopes to expand his career consulting to all over the world.

    Across his 38 years with Kanebo Cosmetics, Mr Kuki married his Japanese wife and raised three children, 2 sons (31 yrs and 30 yrs) and 1 daughter (24 yrs). His eldest son has 2 boys and his second son has a boy and a girl. He asks his four grandchildren to call him “Gran-Pa” in English. Mr. Kuki enjoys taking photos and sharing them on Facebook so he could introduce others to Japan.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19

Global Employment Effects, Part 7

By Lena V. Catalan

The following article, written by Lena Catalan, one of our APCDA members from the Philippines, represents the seventh installment of an ongoing series of articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online weekly NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Ms. Catalan lives in Manila.

Globally, we have observed how the leaders of countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have responded and tried to mitigate the spread of the virus and its impact. Across the Asia Pacific Region, most of us are affected by this disease or coping with the indirect effects of it. The pandemic has claimed the lives of people in more than 227 countries (and still counting). Initially a simple health crisis, COVID-19 has grown to become a world-wide economic, political and pressing social concern. It has shaken the basic core of our society and caused us to reflect on the following questions posed at the beginning of this ongoing article series by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, first President and current Membership Chair).

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Beginning with the Economic Experts

Economic experts in the Philippines are currently categorizing the COVID-19 pandemic effects in terms of recession and massive unemployment. Industries affected include the airlines, consumer and retail, financial institutions, service, tourism and transportation. In Asia, the export and agricultural sectors are not exempted. Since February 2020, the drop in production and manufacturing has affected the supply chain. As the huge demand for goods has blown out of proportion, the replenishing of products and inventories has come to a halt. Most factories have been depleted and forced to shut down in the process.

GOOD NEWS in the Philippines

There is good news. The “enhanced community quarantine” implemented by the Philippine government in March 2020 resulted in a 2% increase in gross domestic product (GDP) (according to the Asian Development Outlook 2020’s economic publication). If everything goes smoothly until June, Asian Development Bank predicts a projected recovery and an additional increase in the country’s GDP by 6.5 percent in 2021.

Cooperation, Commitment and Community Needed

I, personally, hope and pray that the Philippine government’s effort and strategies to flatten the curve, with the combined support of the local government units, NGOs, foreign aid and even private and public organizations will be successful. However, I believe that the cooperation, commitment and strict discipline of our entire community as a whole also is needed to make this happen.

Professional Background Helps to Predict

As a Career Development professional and psychologist, I can see that there will be ongoing opportunities to work from home. We will need continue to learn how to navigate online platforms for work output, communication, video conferences, meetings, and the like We also will need to continue to grapple with the seismic changes technology has brought and continues to bring to the banking and finance industry. Financial technology, or Fintech, jobs such as Applications Developer, Compliance Expert, Financial Analyst and Cybersecurity Expert will continue to emerge as part of the lasting effects of social distancing and community quarantine. These jobs can be done virtually, in the comfort of one’s home. Freelance, creative and project-based jobs might continue to be preferred by companies or businesses as they recover from their pandemic-caused loss of revenue.

We, in the helping professions, are at the forefront of societal pandemic effects due to the ongoing roller coaster of emotions that people are currently experiencing. Current feelings of anxiety, depression, panic and/or confusion coupled with the phases of trauma recovery, undoubtably will cause the demand for mental health professionals and psychological as well as counseling services to increase and continue to grow as society keeps up with ongoing pandemic recovery changes.

Time to Appreciate Community, Family and Focus on Priorities

My heart goes out to the daily wage earners or workers since they are the ones who will need help the most. As such, even if our local government units are doing their best to provide relief goods to the different barangays*, I sincerely hope that there will be ongoing concrete steps and sustainable efforts to respond appropriately to continuing community suffering.

In closing, I need to take a moment to commend and salute the efforts of all the Philippine frontliners - whether situated in our hospitals, pharmacies, groceries, public markets, food establishments, clinics, barangays, police departments, army barracks or garbage depots. I also wanted to share that I make an effort to personally offer my thanks to these most vulnerable among us; having the higher risk of getting infected due to their call of duty.

In experiencing my “new normal”, I partially see moving through and beyond COVID as gift to spend more time with my family, to enjoy doing things together and to build a stronger bond. I also view it as an opportune time to connect with my immediate community—our neighbors and the barangay. We are constantly keeping in touch with one another for updates and checking on the welfare of everyone, while still observing community quarantine and social distancing protocols.

I see the critical role of career development and placement practice as a call to be more resilient, to volunteer in initiatives, to help the community heal from the pandemic and to conduct capacity-building and learning sessions focusing on mental health using online platforms. Ultimately, we share in the advocacy for wellness, whether individually or collectively as we trust even more in the Higher Powers—our Almighty God to pull us through these challenging times!

Sources:

* A barangay, sometimes referred to as barrio, is the smallest administrative division in the Philippines and is the native Filipino term for a village, district or ward. In metropolitan areas, the term often refers to an inner-city neighborhood, a suburb or a suburban neighborhood (Wikipedia).


Lena V. Catalan, RPsy, is a career development and mental health professional, registered psychologist and the President of the Association of Placement Practitioners of Colleges and Universities, Inc. (APPCU). Concurrently, she is also a Student Organization Adviser of Adlaw, a socio-political party which aims to uphold, advance and protect the rights and welfare of the Benildean Community through proactive citizenry and servant leadership. Administratively, Ms. Catalan works as a full-time, Career & Placement Office Head under the Department of Student Life at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. Her Master of Arts degree in Psychology is from the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila. She has extensive work experience in the education and industry sectors which included a variety of roles: Formator, Human Resource & Career Development Practitioner, Facilitator, Educator, Administrator, and Psychologist. Ms. Catalan’s significant contributions are in the areas of recruitment, psychological assessment, training and development, career assessment, interviewing and coaching, program/workshop facilitation, implementation and evaluation. She considers herself a lifelong learner with advocacies that include children’s rights, women empowerment, care of the youth, family welfare and wellness.


Moving Through and Beyond COVID-19

Global Employment Effects, Part 6

By Yoshinobu Ooi

The following article, written by our APCDA Japan Representative, Yoshinobu Ooi, represents the fifth installment of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Mr. Ooi lives in Tokyo.

The coronavirus pandemic has touched every part of our nation and most parts of the world. It has rapidly changed how we go about our daily lives. And while it has been devastating, it has also put on full display the greatness of the human spirit. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair), it is my humble privilege to share predictions for a hopeful future.

What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?

  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Inevitability to Adapt to Environmental Changes

In Japan, like with many other countries around the globe, moving through the COVID-19 crisis, meant accelerating environmental changes; especially with regard to remote work and remote meetings. Today, even individuals and companies without any prior remote work experience are now using it. Self-restraint restrictions are gradually being lifted. When it becomes possible, should we return to our past work processes and regularly conduct business in person once again?

Using Reality & Lessons Learned to Shape the Future

Although Japan is a small country, domestic transportation is expensive. Tokyo is recognized by most as the center of Japan. In the pre-pandemic past, it was where many workers gathered to conduct business. Regretfully though, it also took time as well as money for citizens from all over the country to travel to this busy capital city.

As many of you know, due to the pandemic, APCDA decided to hold its Annual Conference and Annual Membership Meeting virtually. With the expense and time of foreign travel eliminated, more APCDA members from Japan participated in these two separately held and virtually delivered endeavors than ever before.

In the face of this reality, it makes sense to continue to hone our remote work and remote meeting experiences to craft a new work environment for Japan. On the other hand, teleconferencing with regard to meetings and group gatherings almost eliminates participant chatter, information exchanges and happenstance opportunities that normally take place among participants before, during and after an in-person event. In December of last year, the first APCDA Information Sharing Meeting was held in Japan. It combined both face-to-face and Zoom components, thus allowing for information exchanges and it received positive participant feedback.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Charles Darwin

Earlier this month, on May 4th, our second APCDA Information Sharing Meeting was held in Japan. While it could only be virtual, we intentionally divided it into three parts in order to better integrate leaning exchanges. During the first part of the meeting, we provided a unilateral introduction to APCDA’s member benefits, conferences and webinars. In other words, we used lecture format. However, in the second part of our virtual Sharing Meeting, we took the time to actually share experiences of APCDA’s recent virtual conference. We used an interview process to guide the sharing experience. During the final part of the meeting, we introduced the APCDA conference theme "Embracing Lifelong Career Development" for the next fiscal year. Although it was difficult to interpret the theme in Japanese, dividing the participants into smaller discussion groups helped foster understanding. Smaller group discussions additionally allowed each individual the time to share their unique thoughts and feelings about the theme as well as their thoughts and feelings about visiting Singapore. Throughout the three parts of our Sharing Meeting, we proceeded slowly and also took a lot of breaks. In the end, we received participant feedback that we successfully delivered a well-balanced lecture and discussion format. In other words, taking the time to sprinkle some time for happenstance spiced the learning and led to the satisfaction of increased understanding.

The success of this second Sharing Meeting was supported by the efforts and participation of APCDA Secretary, Momoko Asaka, and APCDA members Michihiro Tanaka, Kunimitsu Kuki and Yoshichika Iida. Japan Career Development Association (JCDA) Ja staff Wadayo Ikeda was additionally instrumental to the meeting’s positive outcome. Much thanks and appreciation go out to Kimiko Kato and Yukie Sato for sharing their experience of APCDA’s virtual conference.


Yoshinobu Ooi, APCDA’s Japan Representative, is a Freelance Career Counselor and Management Consultant. After obtaining a master's degree in electronic information engineering, he worked for more than 20 years at a Global telecommunications & Cloud service company in Japan. In time, he was assigned to the Human Resources Department and became responsible for new employee training. Mr. Ooi has since obtained his CDA qualification and completed the MBA course at Globis University. He now supports a wide range of career development for university students and corporate employees. He is also a JCDA member.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19
Global Employment Effects, Part 5

By Li Fern Tong

The following article, written by one of our newer APCDA News Committee members, Li Fern Tong, represents the fifth installment of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic. Ms. Tong resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones, friends, students and clients to the coronavirus. My thoughts and prayers are with those still battling the virus and with family members, health care workers and all the essential workers valiantly striving to meet the many challenges of this unprecedented global, public health emergency and economic crisis. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) my NEW Normal and predictions for a hopeful future follows; beginning with growing gloom, taking time to share Malaysian silver linings and helping to get comfortable with and begin to enjoy my NEW Normal.

What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?

  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Growing Economic Gloom

I grew up in a small Malaysian city. Since the COVID-19 global pandemic hit, some of the iconic establishments I used to pass by after school have closed their doors. A magazine I regularly read, published its final issue on the last day of April. An international fashion label, manufactured here in Malaysia, closed most of its Asian business. A number of my close friends have been let go by their companies. Daily news articles and social media posts bombard the public with the many struggles and challenges currently being faced by Small and Medium business Enterprises (SMEs) throughout my country. Apart from the daily dose of ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 confirmed cases (up, close to a thousand since the number reported in our April 26th issue) and deaths (thankfully only up by 10—same issue), the news of growing economic gloom pains my heart because it translates to the very real decimation of the livelihood of my fellow Malaysians.

Silver Lining

However, even and especially in harsh times, it is heart-warming to hear and read stories sharing ongoing good deeds being delivered by those who walk with us. Due to social media, not only did these stories go viral, they also resulted in enlisting ongoing community support. Within the past weeks, I’ve been invited to participate in a few social media groups focusing on Helping to Save SMEs in Malaysia. It’s amazing and soulfully replenishing to me how the efforts of these quiet heroes have translated to loud and proud ongoing help to our local hawkers. The very idea that those who are not sellers are recommending their trusted sellers to those requesting certain products is servant leadership at its best. It’s truly inspiring to hear, read about and be invited to participate in the resiliency of community spirit and the over-arching concept of applied humanity.

The NEW Normal

No longer an unfamiliar phrase, the NEW Normal is a strategy that I, along with most of us, are struggling to adopt. Yet, recently, I have personally discovered that this strategy may actually be a way to not only survive, but actually thrive in chaos and crises. Perhaps being forced to quickly move from resisting change to embracing it, might prove to actually impact survival rate beneficially? The university, where I work in Kuala Lumpur, had to transition all of its in-person classes to virtual, online ones within a week. The change was chaotic and overwhelmingly stressful. I desperately wanted to visit, experience and linger within each and every one of Kubler Ross’s grief stages, but the luxury of time was regretfully unavailable. Surprisingly though, the REALITY of only one week being available produced enough adrenaline to not only endure, but to also explore, and yes, even thrive. Don’t get me wrong, it was tough, but I enjoyed most of the process and even the outcome. Reflecting on the week, helped me realize that hearing and reading about ‘real life’ stories that demonstrated the application of the following transferable skills not only got and kept me going, but also helped keep the adrenaline flowing.

  1. CREATIVITY
    Being able to think outside the box and do things differently.
    A small bakery that had run its operations out of a food truck had not able to keep up with the big boys before the pandemic hit. During the quarantine, the bakery took time to experiment. Using their home kitchen for R&D and social media for marketing to consumers restricted to home, the bakery successfully launched a new side business; selling pre-mixed, baking ingredients to a COVID-19-produced niche market -- “amateur home bakers”.
  2. PERSISTENCE
    It’s okay if it is tough. It’s okay that there is no end in sight. It’s DO-able!
    Our health care and essential workers are the best example of demonstrating this transferable skill. “I go to work for you, you stay at home for us,” is sprawled all over social media. These heroic members of our community are steadily and reliably labouring on, to keep us SAFE and keep/make us well. At the same time our fathers and mothers are working from home, they additionally are striving relentlessly to keep their children, the future of our community, engaged and learning. UNBELIEVABLE and AMAZING demonstration of this skill.
  3. RISK-TAKING
    Doing something that may produce failure.
    What would you do, if a man in ragged clothes walked up to you during this pandemic? Though feeling alarmed and anxious on the inside and quickly concluding the man was another beggar asking for money, one lady gave the man some money, initially walked away a few steps, but then turned around when she heard the man sob, “I am not a beggar, but am very hungry.” After turning around, she walked back to the man and took the time to ask for and hear his story. He was a migrant worker, who recently had been retrenched. Without income, he could not pay for his rent and was recently evicted. Feeling deep empathy for the man, she, and those she cared about could easily be in his shoes, she gave him even more money so he could continue to survive. She took a risk, but so did he. He opened himself up to being ridiculed and possibly hated.
  4. FLEXIBILITY
    Bending easily without breaking.
    Like her sister countries, the global pandemic caused Malaysia to enact a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO). And like bigger corporations in other countries, those in Malaysia required workers to work virtually and/or decreased their on-site operations to a skeleton crew. Here in Malaysia, some of these bigger companies FLEXED a bit further and allowed their interns to keep working and complete their internship hours.
  5. SUPPORT
    Connect and collaborate to maximize contributions.
    Though is took some practice, I eventually realized that ‘social distancing’ actually means ‘physical distancing’. During CMCO, I have been blessed having my family staying with me. However, I quickly found that the lack of being able to meet with my colleagues and friends face-to-face was soul-sucking and initially made transitioning to online work feel even more overwhelming. With time, effort, energy and a lot of help from my support group, I learned that social media platforms could become a place to display supportive thoughts and share challenges as well as solutions. With new ways of learning, it is possible to enjoying the journey as you work towards reaching the destination.
  6. LIFE-LONG LEARNING
    Our NEW Normal calls for learning and re-learning.
    A traditional jam seller first post on social media follows. “I’ve always made my sales offline, selling to my usual customers. However, during times of change, I’ve decided to learn this new thing called social media.”
“In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves ill-equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” – Eric Hoffer

There will be a time to grieve over all that we have lost during the COVID-19 Global Pandemic. But now is also a time to accept and practice our NEW Normal. When we decide to fully receive the NEW Normal, opportunities will begin to crop up. While the NEW Normal that I’ve been experiencing was not necessarily a comfortable or easy journey, the process of putting it into practice with its ups and downs, helped me FLEX and continue to LEARN new skills for work. The consistent changes forced me to learn what I had been delaying, to thinking of and integrating CREATIVE solutions. I humbly hope that what I’ve shared in this article helps to encourage your NEW Normal to become more comfortable and possibly more FUN!


Moving through and beyond COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 4

By Allan Gatenby FRIEdr FRIM CMF JP

The following article, written by our APCDA Committee Council Chair and 2020 President’s Award recipient, Allan Gatenby, is part four of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global CO-VID 19 Pandemic. Mr. Gatenby resides in New South Wales, Australia.


I hope this finds you all safe and well at home, and like me and those I serve in the career development and educational leadership fields, counting the days until I can get back to my routines and once again gather together, face-to-face with friends, family and the community at large. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) my NEW Normal and predictions for a hopeful future follows; beginning with my current reality, adding some reflections of my success with meeting past challenges and additionally factoring in recent, pre-pandemic, employment trends.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

Managing Crisis

COVID19 has created chaos. Totally unexpected, reported throughout the media in the language of catastrophe, coupled with virtual decision making that is being unilaterally applied has created doomsday mindsets around the globe. Understandably, I have been finding graduates from Australian high schools through professional schools are anxious. When you are in the midst of a storm, it is difficult to see what is beyond the storm. Moving through COVID-19, I have discovered that not only does my own experience and mindset, but also the experiences and mindsets of the graduates I work with, comes to aid in both reducing anxiety and fostering hope for the future.

Crisis is a common experience for all of us. Shock, powerlessness, dismay, but also, and most importantly, success are all feelings most of us have experienced. Moving through COVID-19, I was reminded that reflection upon what enabled me to survive past critical transitions and challenges was a critical key to understanding how I, and those I serve, can thrive in the current pandemic. Challenge is not new. Only the context of the current challenge is different. COVID 19 has crystallized trends in employment that have been evident for some time but to which we have been slow to respond.

Reflections of Past Challenges & Pre-Pandemic Employment Trends

Graduates from high schools through professional schools, unless through unique scholarship or internship opportunities, have never been guaranteed employment. Each year, prior to graduation, reality bites and graduate anxiety increases. Graduation has never been nor ever will be a guarantee for employment. Pre-pandemic work and workplaces had been rapidly changing. Employability had been redefined during Industry Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0). COVID 19 has brought these trends into a sharp focus. No longer can graduates ignore that they are entering a marketplace which is over-supplied and in which there are only 2 types of people:  buyers and sellers. In this marketplace, the buyer or employer set the metric of value and the graduates, are always the seller. IR4.0 set the bar for graduates needing to become entrepreneurial and use creativity and initiative to become innovative in communicating their value to prospective employers.

Enabling students to complete their graduation and study is clearly a priority. I commend staff who have worked tirelessly in their endeavours to almost instantaneously transition from providing in-person to virtually services throughout the current pandemic. However, simply providing online and telephone services is like moving deck chairs on the sinking Titanic.

Recipe for Success

Our current COVID-19 reality is an opportunity to change the focus of services and delivery pedagogies. Graduates will benefit from viewing the world as a marketplace and becoming more entrepreneurial in engaging employers and eventual business partners and clients. My approach with graduates during the pandemic involves helping with the development of an entrepreneurial mindset; being creative, active, innovative and persistent.

Essentially Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset includes:

  • Accepting that your friend of the last few years is now your competitor. Graduation is like gaining a driver’s license. You can now drive, legally. However, employers want to know how well you can drive and specifically how you drive better and more effectively than your cohort.
  • Sharpening your tools: Abraham Lincoln said, ‘give me 6 hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe.’ This is a good time to check whether you are equipped with the right tools to gain attention and whether those tools need sharpening. No longer are generic resumes, letters of application and statements addressing selection criteria going to result in job interviews. Marketing and selling are different, requiring different tools, skills and approaches. Over-all employers and decision-making teams want to see how an individual will add value to their business. More time needs to be spent in understanding that pitching and proposal writing are the foundations for powerful and persuasive communication that leads to interview offers.
  • Developing a marketplace mindset:  Understand that the buyer determines the value of a good or service. Marketing is different to selling. Make it easy for the buyer to see your value, your uniqueness. When selling demonstrate how you will add value to the organization.
  • Being active to be attractive: Be noticed for all the right reasons; ensure that your online, paper and in person presence are all in sync. As it is in real estate, position, position, position . . . network, network, network!
  • Pushing beyond the horizon: Consider non-traditional, non-paid and/or non-local opportunities. Experience counts. Become entrepreneurial by using innovative and creative analytics, proposals and strategies. Reach out and form agile, flexible partnerships and teams.
  • Managing yourself as the valuable product you are: Resist compromise. Focus on where you have control and be gentle with yourself. Engage in creative activities and limit news exposure to reduce anxiety.

As professionals, no matter our circumstances, we must be prophets of hope. We cannot assume a graduate has enough self or world knowledge to be able to effectively engage in entrepreneurial thinking or understand the subtle art of developing and delivering high impact proposals to enable them to achieve their dream. Today is a time when we can refine our practice to help prepare graduates for ongoing change and uncertainty.


Allan Gatenby is a private practitioner with a long and extraordinarily successful career in educational leadership. His postgraduate work is in leadership and change. He was a facilitator in both the Franklin Covey Institute and the Glasser Institute. Choice drives engagement and engagement lifts productivity. Mr Gatenby established his own business in 2007. As with many other business owners, COVID 19 has challenged his business with limited income generation. His farming background lead him to better understand the cyclic and seasonal nature of life. As a survivor of cancer and redundancy, he has developed an entrepreneurial mindset that continues to serve him to thrive when faced with unexpected and devastating events.


Moving through COVID-19 & Seeking APCDA Member Sharing
re: Global Employment Effects, Part 3

By Natalie Kauffman

The following article, written by one of our APCDA U.S. members residing in Maryland, is part three of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current COVID-19 Global Pandemic.

APCDA continues to extend blessings and hope for each and every APCDA member, as well as their immediate and extended family, the clients that they serve and the communities where they reside. May y'all not only survive but thrive through our ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic! Next week, we anticipate more member sharing; showcasing the unique way(s) they have been coping with the current COVID-19 global pandemic.

Regretfully, as of April 25th, Maryland, my adopted state, experienced the largest number of COVID-19 deaths in one day—74. Due to powerful, international networking efforts of our state government, spearheaded by our state’s first lady, Yumi Hogan (the first Korean-American First Lady in the U.S.), with the Republic of Korea government, our state was able to increase its novel virus testing efforts and has confirmed 16,616 cases to date. Thankfully, me, my immediate and extended family are all doing well. My Daughter, Son-in-Law, Granddaughter, 2 Brother-in-Laws and their Spouses and my Sister-in-Law all live relatively near my husband & me in Maryland.

My Son and Daughter-in-Law live up in Maine, with only 965 confirmed cases and 47 deaths. Although also doing well, my Mom, Sister, Brother-in-Law and Nephew live in southern New Jersey (NJ). (Among U.S. states, NJ has the second highest number of COVID-19 deaths—5,617. They confirm 102,000 cases so far from the novel virus.) My additional extended family, my nephew and his spouse, live in Washington state with 12,977 confirmed cases and 723 deaths. (Washington recorded the very first U.S. COVID-19 case.)

Some of you may have caught photos of Floridians flocking to the beaches. In alphabetical order Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas, are U.S. states that have begun to ease their COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Colorado Governor Jared Polis’ previously issued “stay-at-home” mandate has transitioned to a “safer-at-home” one.

To borrow words from an email my graduate school alma mater (Johns Hopkins University)’s president, Ronald J. Daniels, recently shared with the alumni community,

. . . it is fair to say that this moment — unlike any other we have experienced in our lifetimes — is a study in stark contrasts.

On the one hand, it is a time of immense human tragedy and fiscal upheaval. [In our own unique ways, using our own unique skills and talent, w]e are working tirelessly to keep our communit[ies] safe . . . We are also facing profound projected economic losses as nearly every aspect of our work — from teaching to research to clinical care — has been adversely affected by the pandemic, and we are required to undertake firm and difficult actions . . .

On the other hand, the pandemic has been a time of truly inspiring achievement . . . remarkable grace, determination, ingenuity, and compassion to this moment.


Please look for next week’s fourth installment of our COVID-19 Global Employment Effects series to read more unique stories from our APCDA members. In the meantime, take a look at the following spreadsheet which provides an Overview of COVID-19 Results Across Our 45 APCDA Country/Areas. (Source: Some of the data comes from the Johns Hopkins University and Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/, some comes Wikipedia, where cases are constantly updated from resources around the world. Daily situation reports are also available on the World Health Organization site. The various sources that are tracking and aggregating coronavirus data update at different times and may have different ways of gathering data.)

Overview of COVID-19 Results Across Our 45 APCDA Country/Areas

As of April 24, 2020-- COVID-19 FREE Zone
APCDA Country/Area Confirmed Recovered Deaths
Australia 6,694 5,372 80
Azerbaijan 1,645 1,080 21
Bangladesh 4,998 112 140
Bhutan 7 3 0
Brunei Darussalam 138 120 1
Cambodia 122 117 0
Canada 45,493 16,320 2,462
China 83,909 77,346 4,642
Cook Islands 0 0 0
Fiji 18 10 0
Guam 141 128 5
Hong Kong 1,038 753 4
India 26,917 5,210 779
Indonesia 8,882 1,042 720
Japan 13,231 2,536 360
Kazakhstan 2,693 646 25
Kiribati 0 0 0
Korea 10,728 8,635 240
Laos 19 4 0
Macau 45 27 0
Malaysia 5,780 3,762 98
Maldives 191 17 0
Marshall Islands 0 0 0
Micronesia 0 0 0
Mongolia 38 9 0
Myanmar 146 10 5
Nauru 0 0 0
Nepal 52 16 0
New Zealand 1,470 1,142 18
Pakistan 12,723 2,866 269
Palau 0 0 0
Papua New Guinea 8 0 0
Philippines 7,579 862 501
Samoa 0 0 0
Singapore 13,624 1,002 12
Solomon Islands 0 0 0
Sri Lanka 477 120 7
Taiwan 429 281 6
Thailand 2,922 2,594 51
Timor-Leste 24 2 0
Tonga 0 0 0
Tuvalu 0 0 0
USA 940,797 108,000 54,172
Vanuatu 0 0 0
Vietnam 270 225 0

Countries/Areas currently represented on our Country/Area Council are shown in bold.

Moving through and beyond COVID-19 Global Employment Effects, Part 2

By Phoenix Ho

The following article, written by our NEW APCDA Country/Area Council Representative for Vietnam, is part two of an ongoing series of APCDA articles which began in the Sunday, April 12th issue of our online NEWS. This series looks across our Asia Pacific Region at how our members are each, uniquely, coping with their NEW reality as they move through and beyond the current Global CO-VID 19 Pandemic.

Let me begin by extending my heartfelt wishes for health and safety to each and every one of you within our APCDA family. I also want to thank you for the opportunity to share the unique way I have been coping with the current COVID-19 pandemic in my home country of Vietnam. Keeping in mind the questions listed below that were posed by Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) my NEW Normal follows; beginning with some strategies being employed in my workplace to keep up with the changes and following with some lessons learned.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

A new start

My company, Song An Career Development Social Enterprise, started our journey on the 2nd of January 2020. Previously, we were a career development department under Hon Viet (Viet Insight), an applied psychology company. We were encouraged by the upper management to split off and become a social enterprise due to our potential growth as well as our purpose-driven vision. Everything ran smoothly until COVID-19 hit.

Change management strategy

Since late January 2020, when the first COVID-19 cases were recorded here in Vietnam, our Song An Career Development Social Enterprise team has employed two career theories in our change management, the Chaos Theory and the Planned Happenstance Theory. We accepted that no matter how well we planned our first year in the start-up journey, uncontrollable chaos could hit our path anytime and it was no use sitting there complaining or wishing it away. We also learned from the history of world economic recessions and/or tragedies, those who persevered, adapted and held a clear vision would be the ones who later, not only survived, but also thrived. Together our team carried out the following steps.

Building team members’ wellbeing

In addition to our biweekly team meetings where we discuss our progress, timeline, projects, cash flow, and other operational matters, I hold individual, weekly meetings with each of my three team members. During these meetings, we do not discuss our work duties. Instead, we talk about our family, our emotional concerns and our personal struggles. We do not dwell on the negative side, nor we try to be unrealistically positive. We simply are there for each other. These meetings are not long in time; usually between 15 to 30 minutes. We also commit to our own plan of physical and emotional health by doing daily exercise and meditation. We regularly check on each other to make sure each team member takes care of their wellbeing. We realized it was hard working from home and being disciplined on healthy habits, so we included wellbeing into our team meeting’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) discussion to hold ourselves accountable. This has been our priority because we believe without a healthy body and a clear mind, it is hard to contribute to our team’s growth, especially during this tough time. As a result, our team members work well together, complimenting each other smoothly, daring to show our own vulnerability at times to receive support, and more than ever, we could see our productivity rises up despite ongoing challenges.

Shifting our business model

Thankfully, because our original strategic plan incorporated information technologies into our business model as well as eventually providing online services to our clients and stakeholders, the NEW Normal of working from home was not a shock for us. We just needed to shift at an extraordinary speed; way sooner than we originally planned. We turned my apartment into a home studio, purchased pieces of equipment and services that enabled us to run quality online webinars from home and for the most part, self-taught ourselves the technical side required. (Although we did invite some tech consultant assistance.) Believe it or not, the forced work from home did include some beneficial results. We pushed to the front, all the research projects that we wanted to conduct, yet lacked time to do. This included book publishing, career assessment creating, labor market resources building, career practitioner’s competency framework establishing, professional ethics framework creating, and more. We suddenly became even busier than before COVID-19 began. There was rarely time to be sad or worry because we had so much to do. The results of our re-prioritized actions are hopeful.

Supporting the community

As a social enterprise, we are aware of the problems that COVID-19 is causing to employees, especially those who rely on daily income like Grab bikers, Street food vendors, Lottery ticket salespersons, etc. Therefore, we are helping in our area of capacity. We are producing a video clip with tips on How to Cope During this Chaotic Time while Building One’s Employability Skills. Inside this video clip, we inserted information about free food and government employment agencies. We continue to hold online training workshops for career practitioners to maintain community, keep spirits up and skills sharp. We are launching a free 1-1 career consulting program for our country’s disadvantaged population. We are, like many other organizations in Vietnam, contributing as much as we can.

Learned lessons

Clarity

I personally feel humbled by this experience. Being born and growing up in the post-war time, I thought what I had experienced back then was amazing enough. Yet nothing could compare to today’s pandemic days; waking up and going to bed with the unknown of tomorrow. Going through waves of an emotional roller-coaster when reading the global and national news regarding the COVID-19 virus status. Bracing myself and taking solid steps forward despite the fear of possible company bankruptcy looming on the horizon. Focusing on the present moments, striving for excellence, yet not forgetting both the short- and long-term goals ahead of me. All of these thoughts and behaviors have woven into each other and given me such clarity of life that I have not experienced until now.

Values

More than ever I hang on and practice the core values I treasure the most: lifelong learning, community contributing and holistic development. Every single aspect of my life reflects these three values. They help me stay grounded and keep me grateful for the present moments. I do not know what will happen in two months, six months or two years from now. I do not even wish to anticipate it. I simply perform my best every day and believe that the seeds I have been planting will somehow blossom at some future point.

(Please look for next week’s third installment of our COVID-19 Global Employment Effects series from our new Philippines Country/Area Council representative, Maryrose Macaraan.)

Bio

Phoenix Ho, M.Ed., M.A., was raised by traditional Vietnamese parents and influenced by educator mentors in the Bay Area, California, U.S. Ms. Ho has trained herself to become bilingual and bi-cultural in Vietnamese and American culture. Her own career development journey took 12 years before she discovered her career match. Her passion is to enable young Vietnamese to discover their motivated skills and find a suitable career. Her current projects include creating a career assessment for Vietnamese youth and building a Dictionary of Occupational Titles in Vietnam by working closely with the local community associations, business entities and government offices. Ms. Ho completed her Bachelor of International Business in the U.S., her Master of Educational Leadership and Management in Australia, and her Master of Career Development Counseling in the U.S.


Moving through and beyond COVID-19 Global Employment Effects

By Natalie Kauffman and Soonhoon Ahn

Soonhoon Ahn (APCDA Founder, First President and current Membership Chair) and I (APCDA former Newsletter Committee Chair and ongoing APCDA News reporter) recently chatted by phone to check in with each other and confirm each other’s health and safety regarding self, immediate and extended family. (We are well and extend our heartfelt wishes for health and safety to each and every one of you within our APCDA family.) Since Soonhoon and I currently serve together in APCDA activities as well as in the National Career Development Association’s Global Connections Committee, our conversation moved to a discussion of the current, ongoing and future state of employment around the globe.

Soonhoon followed up our conversation by emailing me the following questions. My immediate thoughts and ideas follow them. However, we invite you to consider your own answers to them and ask you to share them with our APCDA family by writing and submitting them to our APCDA News team for ongoing publication as we together move through and beyond the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

  • What is your vision for employment beyond COVID-19?
  • What changes do you anticipate?
  • What strategies will you employ to keep up with the changes?
  • What opportunities do you see?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share?

As with many of our recent millennial crises, such as 9/11 in the USA and the economic downturn/Great Recession of 2007-2010, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting national as well as global job markets. At the end of this current crisis, what jobs will no longer exist, which ones will be tenuous and what new ones will appear?

Quick 'googling' revealed that the four coordinated terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 caused job loss, especially in the transportation industry and the aerospace/defense sector. Tourism in New York City plummeted, and international travel took a hit. The 2007-2010 economic downturn/Great Recession resulted in more than 2.5 million lost jobs in the U.S. It especially affected the construction, manufacturing, and financial services industries, but also included hospitality, printing, publishing and more.

Currently, virtual work capability is an absolute must. Healthcare is going strong with those workers involved with pandemic treatment and senior living care, but not with workers involved with elective patient procedures and everyday doctor visits.

Retraining, worker skill retooling and especially technology upgrading remained especially important during and following the economic downturn/Great Recession of 2007-2010 and I am certain will continue to be so as we move through and beyond COVID-19 effects. According to Associated Press journalist, Christopher Rugaber's US Jobs report article in the Saturday April 4th Baltimore Sun, "A grim snapshot of the U.S. job market's sudden collapse emerged Friday with a report that employers shed hundreds of thousands of jobs . . ."

Two important strategies are needed to keep up with the changes:

  1. Become or continue to be an informed reader of news and research articles regarding employment, job loss and job creation.
  2. Connect regularly with your field's/your industry's global counterparts to share current realities, solutions and brainstorm solutions to unresolved problems. (Don't waste time reinventing wheels. Maximize efforts of others by using or building upon what's working. Work together to craft possibilities to resolve what isn't working.)

(This article is first in a series from our APCDA family. Please look for next week’s article from our new Vietnam Country/Area Council representative, Phoenix Ho.)






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