With businesses closing, Montrealers ponder career changes

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MONTREAL -- With thousands of Canadian businesses permanently closing because of the pandemic, many people are out of work and struggling to figure out how to make a career change.

In Montreal, the restaurant and hospitality industry in particular has taken a big hit.

“This is a disaster. There's no way to sugarcoat it. There's no point in complaining because everybody is in this boat. The whole industry is suffering,” said Burgundy Lion co-owner Paul Desbaillets. “The majority (of our staff) is on employment insurance, there are some who have come back to work to do what they have to do.”

Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander said those who once worked in retail may have to re-imagine their futures.

“Food and beverage is one of those things that is probably going to change but not disappear,” he said. “But retail is one of those things that is going to accelerate out. It's not going to survive three or four years in its current form. It's going to look radically different.”

One area that may attract many looking for new careers is information technology, said cybersecurity expert Terry Cutler, noting the field has seen a huge demand for talent.

“We've got a 2 million shortage in this sector worldwide,” he said. “What I'm seeing is that the kids coming out of university don't have the proper skills to make them employable.”

The Quebec government recently announced a $19 million investment to attract Quebecers towards careers in I.T.

But for those invested in their current businesses, the uncertainty is painful.

“How can you project what model you'll be pointing to over the next six to 10 months when you have zero idea of what opening up looks like?” said Desbaillets.

Quebec's current lockdown restrictions will be in place until at least Feb. 8.  

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