Understanding the labour market

Where are the jobs and how do you get them?

Jessica Klymchuk, News Editor Ω

The Maclean's 2014 Guide to Jobs in Canada named oil and gas drilling supervisor as the number one job in Canada, ranked job by demand and recent salary growth.
The Maclean’s 2014 Guide to Jobs in Canada named oil and gas drilling supervisor as the number one job in Canada, ranked job by demand and recent salary growth.

Today’s youth: “generation screwed,” “generation jobless” said the CBC. “The new underclass” said Maclean’s.

In July 2013, Statistics Canada reported that between 2008 and 2009, the unemployment rate among 15-to-24 year olds increased from 11.6 per cent to 15.2 per cent, and it hasn’t changed since.  Although youth today continue to be labeled as overeducated and underemployed, statistics showing the peak youth unemployment rate during the most recent downturn was lower than relative peaks during the last two recessions – 17.2 per cent in the 1990s and 19.2 per cent in the 1980s, StatsCan reported.

However, there is no doubt that the labour market has changed significantly, and youth today face a very different transition into the workforce than the previous generation.

“The labour market has never gone through as significant changes as it’s going through now,” said TRU student employment co-ordinator Susan Forseille. “When I say significant changes I mean you look at technology, you look at the global economy, you look at what career development looks like now versus five years ago.”

“Our youth are really struggling to find work,” she said. “That’s students with and without post-secondary education.”

The average student will have seven to ten career shifts before they are 38, and Forseille said one of the career education department’s goals is to help students understand what those career shifts will look like. They want students to be able to interpret the labour market changes and be able to act on them.

Forseille wrote her master’s thesis on the variables that influence the transition between post-secondary and the labour market – an analysis of a TRU student who found meaningful work right after graduation and one that didn’t. She measured around 50 different variables, none of which were a surprise, she said.

“If they understand the labour market, who is hiring what they’re hiring for, if they have professional resumes, cover letters, career portfolios and if they have confidence they set a really exceptional foundation,” she said.

Forseille is also part of a national committee that is lobbying the federal government to implement a youth employment action plan.

“There’s no massive study that is looking at this,” Forseille said.  “They look at employment rates and wages but they’re not looking at what kind of work they’re getting or why they are getting it.”

The Maclean’s 2014 Guide to Jobs in Canada lists Canada’s top 50 jobs, ranked by demand and recent salary growth. At the top is oil and gas drilling supervisor – StatsCan has reported that declines in wages and full-time employment rates in the last 30 years are “less pronounced in oil-producing provinces.” Number two on the list is head nurse and health care manager and number three is petroleum engineer. Lawyer lands at number six, registered nurse at number 16 and electrician at 31. Jobs earning less than $60,000 a year aren’t included on the list.

The Guide also lists the ten fastest-growing occupations from 2011 to 2020, saying the “occupations with the fasted projected average annual employment growth are in the oil and gas sector and health care.”

Career education teaches students to target between five to ten companies that they would like to work for, invest their research in those companies, identify the key decision makers, ask questions and then submit a resume.

“They will have much more luck with that than sending a resume to a hundred different people with no understanding and a thousand other resumes coming their way,” said Forseille.