Digging deeper into why Americans are pivoting careers post-pandemic

In fiscal year 2021, WEDnetPA provided $356,393 to train 825 workers in Philadelphia alone.

Nydia Han Image
Friday, October 29, 2021
Digging deeper into why Americans are pivoting careers post-pandemic
After 15 years in the restaurant industry, Courtney Taylor is pivoting to her dream job after suffering from pandemic burnout.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an intense toll on mostly all of us and experts say we're now hitting the burnout phase.

Courtney Taylor of Southwest Philadelphia says she suffered from burnout. So, like so many others in the restaurant industry, she quit with no intention to return after 15 years in the business.

"They now put your money on a check every week or every other week and it has no benefits because typically restaurant jobs don't," she said. "I think the pandemic made it possible for people to think, especially since you got a forced break and you couldn't do anything. It's like, 'Wow, what else can I do?'"

Taylor is now pursuing her dream of starting her own business as a nail technician.

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich says, "American workers know they have, right now, a great deal of bargaining leverage they have not had in years. The typical worker in this country, if you adjust for inflation, has not had a raise in 40 years. So it is appropriate that there will be more higher wages paid."

SEE ALSO: Burnout, child care costs drive more women to temporarily step out of workforce

While there are many reasons for the continuing worker shortage, women are disproportionately impacted.

Plus, Americans have saved trillions of dollars since the pandemic began.

"A lot of workers now feel that they have a little bit of luxury to wait and see, to reevaluate. They don't have to return to the same lousy jobs they had before," said Reich.

Philadelphia Works, whose mission is to build a stronger workforce, says along with higher pay and benefits, many workers, particularly millennials, are also seeking something money can't buy -- more fulfillment and a better overall work experience, and the landscape is ripe with opportunity.

"There are so many training programs out there now that are available that are free or low cost to the public that line right up with a lot of employment openings," said Patricia Blumenauer, the VP of Operations and Data of Philadelphia Works.

WEDnetPA is a state workforce development initiative. In fiscal year 2021, WEDnetPA provided $356,393 to train 825 workers in Philadelphia alone. Compared to the previous year, that's nearly double its investment and a 65% increase in the number of workers trained.

Philadelphia Works is also increasing its efforts to get people back into the workforce while also guiding workers like Taylor.

"I want a career and taking that break really helped me realize, 'You know what, Courtney? You could do other stuff. You don't have to do this,'" says Taylor.

Other reasons people are quitting or staying out of the workforce include COVID health and safety concerns, as well as the desire for more flexibility and remote work.