Jan 24, 2022

Podcasts in the Classroom - Starting the Year with Staffing Shortages

This series is designed to bring together a variety of shorter, readily available podcasts to introduce a topic from recent headlines and inspire discussion.

Employers are facing staff shortages due to the combination of The Great Resignation as well as the surge in cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. In this post, we look at how different sectors of the economy are grappling with staff shortages. 

Here are some 2-4 minute Marketplace podcasts discussing these headlines.

  • 1/16 Marketplace Morning Report Employers struggle to hire and retain workers almost two years into the pandemic
  • 1/13 Marketplace Garbage collection slows in many cities as COVID-19 hampers staffing
  • 1/10 Marketplace Hospitals try to manage omicron surge along with staff shortages

Here are some relevant Marketplace Minute podcasts,

  • 1/20 Midday unemployment claims rising again and airline revenue down due to the Omnicron variant.
  • 1/13 Midday unemployment claims higher and Delta announces $400m loss in 4th quarter due to cancellations from Covid.
  • 1/12 Morning Briefing grocery store shelves empty as Covid keeps production, truck drivers, and grocery store employees from working.
  • 1/11 Midday United Airlines cancels flights as 3000 employees out sick with Covid
  • 1/6 Morning Briefing Cruise lines cancel cruises due to Covid.

Here are a few other short-form (1-4 minute) podcasts on the subject.

  • Nebraska Public Media discusses how districts in Nebraska are dealing with teacher/substitute shortage peaking with Covid.
  • Montana Public Radio discusses how districts in Montana districts are forced to go remote as more teachers come down with Covid.
  • NPR All Things Considered 1/18 employers scrambling as workers call out sick.


Determine how much time you want to devote to this activity, and select podcasts to provide students with background information. 

Have students then tackle these discussion questions. This can be done individually, in groups, or as a class. Encourage students to cite examples from the podcasts in their responses.

  1. Trace the full impact of an employee shortage due to illness in the industry covered in the podcast. Make sure to include impacts on related industries as well as consumers and other employees in that industry.
  2. In what areas of your life have you felt the impact of staffing shortages or closures/cancellations?
  3. Has your school or local business faced staff shortages? If so, how did they manage to overcome this issue?

If you use this assignment in your class, please let us know how it went!


About the Authors

Ren Makino

Ren started interning at NGPF in 2014, and worked part-time through high school and college. With his knowledge growing alongside NGPF, he joined the team to work full-time after graduating from college in 2020. He is also the producer of the NGPF podcast. During his free time, he likes to try out coffees from different roasters across the world.

Beth Tallman

Beth Tallman entered the working world armed with an MBA in finance and thoroughly enjoyed her first career working in manufacturing and telecommunications, including a stint overseas. She took advantage of an involuntary separation to try teaching high school math, something she had always dreamed of doing. When fate stepped in once again, Beth jumped on the opportunity to combine her passion for numbers, money, and education to develop curriculum and teach personal finance at Oberlin College. Beth now spends her time writing on personal finance and financial education, conducts student workshops, and develops finance curricula and educational content. She is also the Treasurer of Ohio Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

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