‘The Great Upgrade’: Hampton Roads workers looking for better job opportunities

By: Aesia Toliver

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The pandemic was a wake up call for many when it came to their work-life balance. Whether it’s a nurse who got burnt out from the surge in patients from COVID-19 or an employee who got to work from home and recently went back to the office, there’s been a lot to think about.

Steve Cook, chief innovation officer for the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, says the pandemic has been a time of reflection. Cook said they’ve seen an increase in people using their services this past month. He said some of that is due to people wanting to explore other options with more flexibility.

“Maybe they were in a job that wasn’t fulfilling all of their needs, not only personal life but quite frankly, they weren’t making the amount of money they needed to be making and they could foresee that maybe they didn’t have to be doing what they were doing in the past and really could connect to a different job path,” Cook said.

Cook said that’s where the Hampton Roads Workforce Council can help. He said they have a number of services at their career centers all over the region. Those interested can sit down with a career coach, or even get training for that new career path.

“Really the question is have we seen an uptick of people wanting to change their career paths? The answer to that is for the most part, yes, I think a lot of people are happy where they are but in certain industry sectors we’ve seen people reassess that,” Cook said.

He said age also plays a role as millennials and Gen Z are more flexible than some of those before them.

“I think our younger generation is more flexible and has a different perspective on what they’re looking for in a job,” Cook said.

He explained important aspects for them when finding a job are hybrid work weeks and outside-of-office values, like what does the area have to offer them.

Cook says I.T. jobs are hot right now, but to him the hottest jobs now are the ones the region needs filled.

“We’ve got a lot of great DOD positions, DOD-related, cyber-related, but what you see the most of are going to be those maritime-related positions,” Cook said.

As for employers trying to keep up with all of it, he says they’ve got to step up.

“They do need to kind of change and reflect on how they’re treating their employees its just a matter of life I mean if they can’t find it at your workplace they will find it at another workplace, so there has to be some changes,” he said.

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