Career Planning and Skills – Determining viable occupation alternatives and skills gaps

Disruptions to labour markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with some sectors of the economy shedding jobs and others frantically searching for workers, made one thing clear. Workers’ ability to quickly identify and take advantage of emerging employment opportunities will determine their resilience, over the short and long terms. To help Canadians make the best career and training choices, we need to develop and implement more effective information tools.

In this study, Matthias Oschinski and Thanh Nguyen propose a two-pronged approach to career guidance — one that is primarily focused on skills. Their method consists of first determining suitable employment opportunities based on overlaps between the competencies, work activities and interests in a person’s current or most recent occupation and those in alternative occupations, then identifying the skills gaps that must be addressed to make these job transitions possible. The employment alternatives the authors propose are also selected based on whether they have growth prospects as well as wages that are at least as high as those the worker currently earns or recently earned.

To illustrate their method, the authors look at employment alternatives for retail salespersons, cashiers and administrative assistants — three occupations that are at high risk of automation and viral transmission, and that also happen to be among the most affected by the pandemic. Workers in these three occupations are predominantly women, youth and racialized Canadians. They also tend to be low paid and less educated. The authors find that cashiers, for example, could become demonstrators and product promoters, as this occupation has similar features and requirements. To make this transition, however, workers currently employed as cashiers would need additional training to sharpen some skills — for example, technology design — that are used more intensively by demonstrators and product promoters.

Determining viable occupation alternatives and skills gaps is only one component of career guidance, however. Workers would also need information on available job opportunities and relevant training options in order to pursue and qualify for these jobs. Hence, for their framework to be most effective, the authors recommend that it be integrated into a comprehensive career guidance system.

As the world of work constantly evolves, under a wide range of pressures — be it changing demographics or new technologies — the ability to effectively navigate employment and training options is becoming increasingly important for working-age adults. For some workers, such as those currently employed in the energy sector, the need to find good job alternatives will likely become more acute, given Canada’s expected transition to a net-zero economy. To avoid the harmful effects of economic restructuring experienced in the past, policy-makers and individuals should be equipped with the necessary evidence-based career guidance tools so they can trace possible employment paths and identify the skills upgrades needed to make those paths viable. The approach Oschinski and Nguyen develop in this study is the first step toward making these career guidance tools a reality.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  Finding the Right Job: A Skills-Based Approach to Career Planning

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