Here today. Gone tomorrow. This is the grim reality facing the employment sector in the next few years to come.
This needs addressing at the highest level of government and a robust plan put in place to tackle the looming crisis that will affect all sectors of society including lawyers.
Covid-19 has without a shadow of doubt has changed the landscape of society. Forever.
It has done so by the ruthlessness of its killing machine and the fact that most governments and scientists are stumped. Whist they are scrambling about for a solution, more lives are lost needlessly.
The pandemic has also created a degree of terror and fear in everyone and which people will never forget and because of the fear, society will suffer drastic changes..
Thirdly, our culture is now being forced to change whether it is acceptable or not. We see this change manifested on so many levels:.
Our work. Our patterns of working are undergoing a complete change and transformation. Before, majority of us worked from the office but with Covid-19, majority now work from home and that pattern is here to stay.
Further, our social lives are being transformed. No more football, no more beer parlours, no more clubbing, parties, cinemas, smoking joints and betting centre everyday.
One benefit is that we do not see any more extravagant show of wealth at parties and more husbands are at home with their wives and partners.
On reflection, we stumble on the hidden truth that culture is dynamic and evolving and its evolvement has been speeded up by the coronavirus pandemic.
The cultural change is sweeping over our society in a way that is unanticipated. One of the areas it will wreak havoc is in the workplace and workforce.
Any historian and commentator would notice that our society work has since the Industrial age made the development of machines its main goals. The machines, ostensibly, starts out as intended to aid human ingenuity but in the process of time, those machines replaces human beings and those jobs are lost – forever.
Furthermore, society habits of shopping are now changed by the coronavirus pandemic to shopping online instead of the traditional method of shopping. At the end of this pandemic, if there would ever be an end, society’s habits will not be changing so easily.
We are going along the same paths now, even though it is not by choice but by necessity. However, necessity is the mother of invention.
We are now seeing many jobs now being done from home. This benefits the employers because there is less office overheads, less disputes and confrontation and less salary as no expenses or minimal expenses.
The employees whereabouts can be easily ascertained and their work can easily be measured and monitored by the internet to ensure they are actually doing the work.
Sooner or later, employers will realise given the social distancing regulations, their offices and factories needs a drastic rethink and redesign. No more hot desking. No more sharing PCs, laptops, no more desks together.
Soon, employers would come to realise that that they do not need a big office or shop or factory anymore when they can have their workers work from home.
Soon, they will be reluctant to sign new tenancies for commercial premises or renew their leases and tenancies. Moreover, many business will not survive this pandemic leading to many bankruptcies and insolvencies.
All of a sudden, many jobs will be lost either because the business has failed or closed or the job can be done from home so why employ 4 people when the job can be done from home with only two or three people?
We already have huge unemployment facing the youths of Nigeria and to this is now added the loss of jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic and you will have a resulting huge increase of unemployment with its attendant problems and social issues.
What can be done?
The time to plan is now. A task force needs to be set up that would start to create and organise technology hubs and factories where young unemployed youths could be retrained in technology related disciplines.
More vocational training centres needs to be created so that those who are gifted with their hands and don’t necessarily do well academically, can still be trained to be excellent craftsmen and women and be able to use their skills to remain marketable in today’s society.
The task force should also begin to provide business and financial support to current businesses to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic and come out stronger and more profitable than before.
Further, lawyers ought to start giving thought as to their way of working and look to re strategise their vision and their unique selling points and remarket themselves to ensure they stay relevant in the legal marketplace.
Only then will they not go the way the dinosaurs went – extinction.
Christopher is a senior lawyer and member of Enugu Bar.