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每日英語跟讀 Ep.K159: 勞工轉型 因應後疫情時代經濟 Reinventing Workers for the Post-COVID Economy

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日英語跟讀 Ep.K159:  Reinventing Workers for the Post-COVID Economy

The nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will hinge to some extent on how quickly show managers can become electricians, whether taxi drivers can become plumbers, and how many cooks can manage software for a bank.

美國經濟能否從新冠疫情影響下復甦,將在一定程度上取決於表演經理們要多久才能變成電工,計程車司機能否化身為水管匠,以及有多少廚師能替銀行管理軟體。

This is likely to prove especially problematic for millions of low-paid workers in service industries like retailing, hospitality, building maintenance and transportation, which may be permanently impaired or fundamentally transformed. What will janitors do if fewer people work in offices? What will waiters do if the urban restaurant ecosystem never recovers its density?

這對零售業、餐旅業、建築維修和運輸業等服務業數百萬低薪工人來說,問題恐怕特別大。這些行業可能受到永久性損害或發生根本性改變。若辦公室裡人變少了,工友要做什麼呢?若都市餐廳生態系統繁盛不再,服務生又該如何?

Their prognosis is bleak. Marcela Escobari, an economist at the Brookings Institution, warns that even if the economy adds jobs as the coronavirus risk fades, “the rebound won’t help the people that have been hurt the most.”

他們的前景是黯淡的。布魯金斯學會經濟學家艾思科巴里警告說,即使就業機會隨新冠肺炎風險消退而增加,「經濟反彈也幫不了那些受創最重的人」。

Looking back over 16 years of data, Escobari finds that workers in the occupations most heavily hit since the spring will have a difficult time reinventing themselves. Taxi drivers, dancers and front-desk clerks have poor track records moving to jobs as, say, registered nurses, pipe layers or instrumentation technicians.

艾思科巴里檢視16年來的數據發現,今春以來受衝擊最大的一些職業,勞工將很難自我改造。計程車司機、舞者和櫃檯人員轉行從事護理師、舖管工或儀器技工等工作者十分有限。

COVID is abruptly taking out a swath of jobs that were thought to be comparatively resilient, in services that require personal contact with customers. And the jolt has landed squarely on workers with little or no education beyond high school, toiling in the low-wage service economy.

新冠肺炎疾病突然帶走了一大批原本被認為較不容易永久消失的工作,即需與客戶面對面接觸的服務工作。這一衝擊直接打擊到那些僅受過高中教育、在低薪服務經濟區塊中掙扎的勞工。

“The damage to the economy and particularly to workers will probably be longer lasting than we think it is going to be,” said Peter Beard, senior vice president at the Greater Houston Partnership, an economic development group.

經濟發展組織大休士頓商會資深副總裁畢爾德表示:「經濟、尤其是勞工們受害的時間,可能比我們預期的還要更長。」

What’s more, he said, COVID will intensify underlying dynamics that were already transforming the workplace. Automation, for one, will most likely accelerate as employers seek to protect their businesses from future pandemics.

他說,更重要的是,新冠肺炎將強化已經在改變職場的潛在動力,自動化即為一例,由於雇主力求讓自己的企業未來不受大疫情影響,自動化極可能加速。

The challenge is not insurmountable. Yet despite scattered success stories, moving millions of workers into new occupations remains an enormous challenge.

這項挑戰並非不能克服。然而,儘管有少數成功的例子,讓數百萬勞工轉業仍是巨大的挑戰。

“We need a New Deal for skills,” said Amit Sevak, president of Revature, a company that hires workers, trains them to use digital tools and helps place them in jobs. “President Roosevelt deployed the massive number of workers unemployed in the Great Depression on projects that created many of the dams and roads and bridges we have. We need something like that.”

雇用勞工後培訓他們使用數位工具,並幫他們找到工作的Revature公司總裁塞瓦克說:「我們需要一項針對職業技能的新政。小羅斯福總統大蕭條時期把大量失業勞工投入工程計畫,興建了我們現在使用的水壩、道路與橋樑。我們需要這樣的東西。」

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