At the other end of the labour spectrum are jobs that go unfilled for long stretches due to a lack of skilled applicants, a report from CIBC World Markets finds. That "labour market mismatch" or "job mismatch" is among the job trends that will characterize 2013.
Job mismatch describes the preparedness of the workforce. “It’s jobs without people and people without jobs,” says Kristina Hidas, vice-president of HR research and development with the Human Resources Professionals Association. “We have a workforce that’s highly educated and has a highly-developed work ethic but if that doesn’t address the needs of the labour market then it’s a mismatch.”
Being attentive to the realities of the labour market is key to overcoming the disconcerting trend. “It’s very hard to predict — you hear something different almost every day but one can spot trends,” Hidas says. “Certainly there’s a skilled labour shortage. There is certainly a trend that our population is aging.”
There are more than 300,000 open job vacancies in Canada and they require specialty skills that require technical training or post-secondary education, says Byrne Luft, vice-president of operations with Manpower Canada. A lot require the so-called STEM skills: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
Labour shortages, surpluses
According to the CIBC report, 25 job groups have shown signs of consistent skill shortages. By far the largest skill shortage was found in health-related occupations, the mining industry, advanced manufacturing and business services. Put together, those occupations account for 21% of total employment in Canada.
“Time and again, we see that engineering, sciences and skilled trades is really where the future of employment lies,” says Hidas. “On the academic side, engineering remains a growth sector and a sector in which one can find a job with relative ease.
“Any aspect of science that supports the reality of our aging demographic will be in demand.” Skilled trades should be a first career choice. “If you have a skilled trade, you will be able to work in that trade for as long as you want to,” she says.
The CIBC report identified 20 occupations that fall into the surplus category, including labourers in manufacturing, office managers and clerks, along with secondary and elementary school teachers. These jobs account for 16% of total unemployment in Canada.
Soft skills in demand
From a competency-based perspective, a number of soft skills are in demand. “Employers are looking for individuals who can make interpersonal connections,” says Luft. “There’s the notion of sensitivity training to understand each other’s cultures. Others would argue there are generational differences … Some believe skills required in customer service are lacking.”
Because of the huge amount of data available at our fingertips, analytical skills are critical. “People need to be able to take that data, analyse it and come up with a summary in a very expeditious way,” he says.
Time management skills in today’s "age of velocity" are also highly valued. “We’re moving at very fast speeds and have to prioritize what we need to do in a given day,” says Luft. Those skills underscore the need for resiliency and discipline, and the ability to manage stress. “If you’re too connected or working all the time, your productivity can be impacted...How do you manage your stress so you can stay productive at your workplace?”
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