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What Jobs Can be Performed at Home? ACT Presents New Opportunities for the U.S. Workforce

During the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are gathering resources across education, workforce, and economic development to ensure society has access to the most essential services. Unfortunately, those businesses not considered essential have been forced to close. Others have managed to stay open, often because a substantial number of their employees can successfully work from home, performing their tasks remotely and interacting with their coworkers online.

As individual states begin to attempt a return to something closer to normal life, employers are facing decisions about when and how to safely reopen their doors. But even after the worst of the crisis is behind us, millions of adults will still be facing uncertainty about their futures, and communities will be scrambling to provide workforce resources for the unemployed.

A challenge that both businesses and employees will need to confront in a post-coronavirus landscape is adapting to a new work environment. For example, some jobs and tasks that were once performed on-site and migrated to work-from-home status during the crisis will need to be reevaluated. Should the tasks continue to be performed off-site, whether out of an abundance of caution or a newly discovered cost-efficiency?

Currently, 36% of jobs in the United States could be performed virtually, via remote or connected employment, because they require little to no on-site physical effort, contact with equipment, or interaction with other people. How do we know this?

We’ve developed a free interactive database that enables users to view and compare occupation types—across the nation or within each state—according to the levels of “contact” needed to perform the jobs in each occupation. The workforce development tool is useful for businesses, state and local government, and economic and workforce developers.

The 36% percent of jobs referenced above are those that ACT calls “no-contact” jobs. We have determined that these jobs can be performed virtually, regardless of how they were performed before the pandemic. Using the database, employers and others can identify which of their jobs could effectively be performed virtually and which must be performed on-site. The database can also help determine this for the tasks within individual jobs.

Economic and workforce developers can use the tool to determine which occupations have likely been impacted by pandemic-related layoffs, and which might be impacted in the future (for example, high-contact jobs that aren’t considered essential). A substantial number of people who’ve been laid off due to COVID-19 are those who lack formal education and training beyond a high school diploma. Workforce professionals can use the database to help identify groups of workers who could benefit from targeted skill interventions. For some individuals, the ability to quickly and easily show evidence of job skills to a prospective employer will be critical to their re-employment; for other individuals, knowing what skills they will need to learn or improve on to transition into a different kind of job will be their most crucial requirement.

The database is already helping college and career preparation specialists like Montgomery Hinton of Rankin County School District in Brandon, MS.

“For us at the district level, we are going to present to our principals (and probably subsequent staff) this data to make them continually aware of how and where to direct students. Additionally, it might help with staff member's spouses who have lost jobs to point them in the direction of new job markets.”

Through tools such as this database and a suite of related workforce development solutions, as well as resources for students, parents and educators, ACT is committed to providing services to support communities, employers, and the nation’s workforce as we navigate these difficult times.

ICYMI: View the recording of our national webinar about stories and strategies for developing resilient workforce ecosystems. Here you’ll find:
  • Roles and functions of the workforce ecosystem during a disaster and in recovery
  • Resources for resiliency planning and analytics
  • Re-employment strategies, solutions, and promising practices
Stay tuned for a mini-series on Ready for Work, ACT’s workforce development podcast.

Listen to the first podcast here or where you get your podcasts.

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About ACT

ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.