Occupations for the Future

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by Claudio Muñoz

If your Chinese fortune cookie says, “Look for a nursing job,” maybe it’s right. Go ahead and follow the cookie’s advice. It’s not because cookies are great oracles – it’s just that health sector jobs are in high demand in Ontario and will probably stay that way for some time.

You don’t need a crystal ball to look into your employment future – or at least to see how the economy and labour market in Ontario will be. Different websites give you clear descriptions of incomes and trends in different Canadian professions, with just one click. This information is really useful for job seekers or foreign professionals who are thinking of changing careers. If you don’t have a computer go to your closest settlement agency or library and use theirs for free.

Marie Glaver, Director of Research and Analysis at Service Canada for the Ontario Region, is not a prophet but in general she can explain how the future looks. “The longer-term trend is definitely toward services. If you look at the labour market in Toronto since the 1970s you can see this gradual, continual movement from manufacturing jobs into the services sector.”

What does “service sector” mean? Basically it is the part of an industry or business that deals with the marketing and selling of intangible products rather than physical goods. “The services sector ranges from the high-level skills needed for health occupations – like nursing, medical staff or technicians – to lower-level skills occupations like waiter, bellhop or chambermaid. In general what we are seeing is a stronger employment future in the services sector than in producing areas,” Glaver clarifies.

This projection doesn’t mean that there are no more jobs in the “producing” field. It only establishes that more new jobs are emerging in “services” than “manufacturing” and it could be easier to secure a position in that sector.

Searching for the perfect job

The information available about the future of the labour market allows us not only to know what kind of jobs we can find, but also how to prepare for future employers requirements. According to Glaver, the research done by Ontario Job Futures concluded that, “Over time we are seeing that the market is requiring higher levels of education. It is getting harder for people without high school level, and even to some extent people with it, to compete with individuals that have higher levels of education.”

These higher levels of education do not mean that you need a post graduate degree (a Masters degree or PhD.) In some cases all you may need are improved computer skills or specific skills for specific jobs. “As we look at the changing demands of the labor market, we really need to be looking at life-long learning in almost any kind of occupational situation or occupational area. As technologies change, so do the demands of the labour market. It is important to return to school, take training and update your knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis,” she added.

If you are thinking about changing careers, this information can help you to decide what kind of upgrade will be the best for your new professional life. Jobs in high demand right now in Ontario are located in the health sector, particularly in medicine and nursing. Also the financial sector is showing high demand for professionals, especially in financial analysis. Knowledge of technology is no longer required only by engineers. “I think we can safely say now that familiarity with technology has become very important for different jobs,” says Galver.

But, what about your current profession?

The Ontario Job Future website (www.ontariojobfutures.ca) is a joint effort of the government of Canada and the province of Ontario. It contains 163 occupational profiles that job seekers can search alphabetically or by job families. This description includes main duties, education and training requirements, employment prospects, characteristics of occupation, income and links to more information. These profiles give you a clear idea of what employers expect from a professional like you; and can help you decide what to include on your résumé, what to say in a job interview or how to decide on a career change. “The purpose (of this website) was provide an overview of Ontario’s employment pattern and, also, to try and pull together the information we had on occupations and project them forward into the future,” explains Galver.

Ontario Job Futures can be a good place to start, but it is necessary to keep working. There are other similar tools – like Ontario Prospects, for career changing (www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/prospects) or Job Futures Canada (www.jobfutures.ca) if moving to another province is a valid option. Job Futures for any province can be found by doing a web search using the name of the province and the words “job futures.”

The future is closer than it appears

The private sector also offers information on a regular basis about the labour market and employment predictions. In this case, the Manpower survey is a short-term tool that you can use to tackle specific positions during the next few months.

This survey is conducted quarterly “to measure employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforce during the next quarter.” It has been running for more than 40 years in Canada and is based on interviews with more than 1,700 public and private employers in 43 markets across the country. It is a good complement for Ontario Job Futures, which updates its information every five years. The Manpower survey delivers forecasts of employment throughout the country and each province. You can find lots of information like, “Ontario employers predict a hopeful hiring climate for the October to December 2007 period as 22 percent plan to add staff and 9 percent anticipate cutbacks. This is a decrease from the previous quarter, when the Net Employment Outlook was +23 percent, but hiring prospects remain favorable.” That is good news. It means that employers think that they are going to maintain their hiring rates. In plain English, there’s a job for you in Ontario.

But the survey provides concrete information about different sectors as well, for example, “Employers in Ontario’s Wholesale & Retail Trade sector expect an optimistic quarter with a reported Net Employment Outlook of +28 percent.” Meaning that in retail, employers are expecting to keep hiring people. So it could be a good idea look for job in that sector. There is no specific website to find the survey, but you can easily search for it through Google because it is reproduced by most of the media.

The use of these tools can help you to understand what employers want in Ontario, what duties you should be capable of in an eventual job (and they should be listed on your résumé) and what the future will be. It’s going to give you some help to decide whether to go back to school, improve your skills or even to change a career.

But, it is necessary to be aware that these predictions and trends are not written in stone. “Some of these assumptions about economic performance can change or the overall economical environment can change. You have to look at the projections in light of the time that they were done, and presumptions behind them,” Marie Galver from Service Canada, concluded.

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