Upskilling could make workers recession proof!

Mark Talmage-Rostron
May 17, 2022 · 7 min read

All signs are pointing to a global recession. With a squeeze on economies and ripples felt in the job market, many are reflecting on what future skills will be required to make their jobs recession-proof

The Oxford dictionary defines a recession as a period of severe economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.

There is no doubt that due to the situation in the Ukraine, soaring energy costs, bank lending rates increasing, the aftereffects of two years of COVID-19 lingering, and the inflation rate rising as fast as a hot air balloon on a chilly morning, all signs point towards the world heading into a global recession.

The United States, the world’s largest economy, reached record levels of expansion in decades in 2021. As the US enters a downturn, the impact will resonate globally threatening to send the growth rate into reverse barely two years after the global economy shrank 4.3% due to the pandemic. In an open letter in April, Bill Dudley, a former head of the Federal Reserve bank, sent a stark warning that a global recession was now virtually inevitable. This was echoed by David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee who said, “Every piece of evidence suggests that a recession is coming.”

While a recession is not nearly as damaging as a depression, people’s lives are dramatically affected as they will need to tighten their belts and spend less. This in term affects businesses, especially small businesses as consumers cut back on non-essentials, which off the back of that, leads to people’s jobs potentially being placed on the chopping block.

The world is on the brink of a recession

The Economist reports that American inflation, Europe’s energy crisis, and China’s Omicron outbreak are threatening the global economy with a downturn following what has been an economic upturn in some sectors as both the UK and other global economies did show signs of recovery recently.

They go on to say that in Europe, expensive energy is draining the spending power of consumers and causing factories to be costlier to run. As costs rise, businesses typically either raise the cost of the supply of their products or more dramatically, cut the cost of staff to the company which can lead to rising unemployment.


Of course, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the squeeze on gas and fuel supply has been a major catalyst for the much-discussed recession. The Economist has said, “The euro area has the most to lose from the two negative scenarios, given its energy dependence, posing a difficult trade-off for the European Central Bank as it tries to control inflation while avoiding a recession. The larger the blow to growth, the smaller the chances of the ECB starting to boost interest rates in 2022.”

Investors are in the same ballpark as economists, according to a Markets Live poll conducted by Bloomberg with 15% expecting a recession to begin in 2022, 48% in 2023, 21% in 2024, and 16% looking at 2025 or later.

Jobs most at risk during a recession

While the economic outlook for many companies across all sectors appears bleak, thus putting pressure on employment and retention of employees, there are many jobs that are at a higher risk of elimination during a recession. The upcoming recession will be unlike anything we have seen before, as it will come hand-in-hand with a pandemic that has decimated economies around the world. According to experts, the jobs listed below are those that face the greatest threat of eradication or streamlining during a recession and the unpredictable times that accompany it.

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Top 10 jobs vulnerable during a recession

1. Anything that can be automated 2. Hospitality and tourism 3. Arts and entertainment 4. Legal Assistants 5. Leisure industry 6. Retail industry 7. Human resources 8. Restaurant workers 9. Mining, oil, and gas workers 10. Real estate jobs

Whenever the word ‘recession’ hits the headlines, there is a sense of worry about job security, and with good reason.

In the US alone during the 2008 recession, over 10% of Americans were unemployed and 2020 brought a staggering loss of over 35 million jobs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021 the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%

Jobs less at risk during a recession

Recessions mean fewer job hirings, mass redundancies, and growing competition for job vacancies. Although no job is protected, there are a few career fields that experts feel will not be massively impacted during a recession.

Top 10 jobs that appear to be recession-proof

1. Medical and healthcare professionals 2. IT professionals 3. Financial services and accountants 4. Teachers and college professors 5. Senior care providers 6. Delivery and courier workers 7. Pharmacists and technicians 8. Auto mechanics 9. Public transportation workers 10. Grocery store employees

While no job is 100% recession-proof, the above vocations have proven to be safer than others in previous recessions. A few other careers that may be less affected by a recession are ironically, debt collectors, auditors, and repossession agents.

If you are worried about losing your job, be proactive and take the necessary steps to transition into one of these jobs that are recession-proof. However, making a career transition is not as easy as deciding that you want it to happen. It is essential to put the appropriate steps in place to set yourself up for success – which often requires taking courses that will help you to upskill or reskill.

Upskill or reskill to protect your job in a recession

Lifelong learning is a practice and a mindset. Investing in your development through ongoing upskilling and reskilling has proven to be the best way to keep yourself gainfully employed in a recession.

Lauren Frazer, the senior editor for Indeed’s career guide spoke about future-proofing your career when she said, “No matter where you are on your career journey – employed, unemployed, furloughed or a new graduate – upskilling is a great way to stay relevant in the workforce. By adding new proficiencies or bolstering existing skills, you add value to your marketability and make your skillset more recession-proof.”

Aside from the benefit you get by investing in your career progression, there are several other reasons that upskilling, reskilling, and going back to university is a great idea right now as a recession seems imminent. Having in-demand skills can help safeguard your job through economic upheaval.

Safeguarding your job or learning toward landing a more secure job means procuring a host of hard and soft skills.

Hard skills

1. Trade skills (i.e., carpentry, plumbing, welding, and machining) 2. Data analysis/data science 3. Science, engineering, and medical

Soft skills

1. Problem-solving, critical thinking, innovation, and creativity 2. Ability to deal with complexity and ambiguity 3. Communication

When people think of upskilling or reskilling, they typically think of hard skills when in fact they should also consider building soft skills, as they can be applied in any situation and are transferable from job to job.

No matter what your career status or background, upskilling can be an intimidating consideration but most often, education is invaluable because it is an investment in your future.

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Time to go back to university

Economic downturns throughout history have been an opportunistic time to further one’s education. In fact, during the Great Recession that started in late 2007, the number of students who returned to college after being out of the workforce grew by a staggering 30%.

With countries around the globe headed for a recession, enrolling in, or going back to school to further your studies at an internationally recognized university could improve your job prospects significantly. Research from the last recession revealed that individuals with a Master of Business Administration or bachelor’s degrees maintained higher levels of employment than those without degrees.

During recessions, everyone in the job market, or those entering it for the first time, will face tougher competition for the diminishing vacant positions. If individuals find that they are likely to have few opportunities or don’t have the skills necessary to compete, returning to school may be the ideal option.

Of course, to succeed where others are failing means choosing the right program to bolster your future career prospects. Nexford University allows you to upskill and future-proof your career by providing the environment where you can develop the necessary and essential skills to succeed in a volatile job market. Not having to go to a brick-and-mortar university will also allow you to reduce your education costs and learn at your own pace.

You can choose between an MBA, BBA, or a variety of certificates, or courses – all of which are stackable and industry-approved. Nexford’s next-generation learning experience is 100% online, allowing you to learn where you want, when you want, at your own pace, and for a lot less than a traditional brick-and-mortar university.

Primarily, it is about learning in-demand skills that can make your job and career recession-proof. A skills-based curriculum has been proven to make the difference between being hired, retained, and hopefully even getting promoted.

During recessions, you will face tougher competition for fewer vacant positions. If you find that you are likely to have fewer opportunities or do not have the skills necessary to compete, returning to school may be the ideal option. Joining a Nexford community of hundreds of successful learners from over 85 countries can well be the way to go.

Ready to take the next step? Download our brochure or book a call with our Nexford Advisors!

About the author
Mark Talmage-Rostron
Mark Talmage-Rostron

Mark is a college graduate with Honours in Copywriting. He is the Content Marketing Manager at Nexford, creating engaging, thought-provoking, and action-oriented content.

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