Could innovation help workers bounce back from COVID-19?

by | Sep 17, 2020 | News

It’s clear that the impact of COVID-19 is hitting some people particularly hard; for example, those in insecure work, such as gig workers or those on temporary contracts, younger workers and those in low paid work. In fact, according to new research from innovation foundation Nesta,  since the pandemic started, vulnerable workers such as these are twice as likely to be working fewer hours compared to people in more stable work who haven’t been impacted by the pandemic (26% compared to 13%) and nearly a third (32%) say a second lockdown would send them over the edge financially.

With the end of the furlough scheme looming, these less secure workers are worried about the future; just 35% are confident they would be able to find another job in three months if they were made redundant, compared to half (48%) of workers in a stable job, and 30% say they’d have no prospects at all. These are statistics that no employer or employee facing tough decisions wants to hear. 

This research was conducted to mark the launch of the Rapid Recovery Challenge. The challenge aims to find and support new tools and solutions that improve access to jobs and money for vulnerable workers across the UK. Nesta is looking to businesses, charities and other organisations to enter their solutions to address the challenges faced by these workers. Participants could win up to £475,000 by entering the Challenge’s Job Recovery Stream which focuses on career resilience. 

So what could these new solutions look like for jobseekers? The challenge isn’t prescriptive about the form the solutions could take – they could be online or offline, hyper-local or global but the aim of the solutions within the job recovery stream should be clear – to support those people who find themselves out of work to find something that matches their skills. They need to already exist – at least in prototype – and must have been piloted with a minimum of 1,000 users. 

These solutions should help people make connections to live jobs – including, for example, those on With key parts of the economy taking longer to recover than others, it’s likely that these tools provide tailored learning, training, or advice to people seeking work to help them switch roles similar to our own resources for jobseekers, helping people make the transition into different sectors and new roles where their skills can flourish – even if their experience is something a bit different.

So could this innovation help workers bounce back? The six solutions selected as semi-finalists will be announced in December 2020; Nesta would love to hear from any organisations interested in entering the challenge. For employers looking to find solutions to support workers now, please check out our resources for business. 

You can find out more about Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Challenge in the video below

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