From education to employment

Charting the Future – Canada’s Economy and the Role of Employability Services in Job Market Transformation

Scott Parkin

This article discusses Canada’s economy and the role of employability services in addressing job market challenges and laying the groundwork for long-term economic resilience amidst global economic fluctuations and technological advancements.

After my recent visit to Ontario, Canada, where I had the opportunity to learn about the challenges faced by job seekers and the critical work of our members, I would like to share what I learned about the Canadian economy and how the Employability sector supports and will continue to support it.

As we look ahead, Canada’s economy faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities in the coming 12 months. Known for its stable financial system, rich natural resources, and strong public healthcare system, Canada’s economy is nevertheless at a crossroads, influenced by global economic fluctuations, technological advancements, and shifts in the labour market.

As we progress through the first quarter of 2024, we need to understand these anticipated economic changes, the concerning rise in unemployment, and the pivotal role employability services can play in not just addressing immediate job market woes but also in laying the groundwork for long-term economic resilience.

Canada, with its diverse and resource-rich economy, has shown remarkable adaptability in the face of global economic stresses. However, as we continue through 2024, several factors demand close scrutiny.

Emerging Economic Challenges

Canada’s economy, heavily reliant on international trade, must navigate the complexities of shifting global trade relations, particularly with its largest trading partner, the United States. The global shift towards renewable energy poses both a challenge and an opportunity for Canada, a significant player in the oil and gas sector. Rapid advancements in technology offer growth prospects but require the workforce to adapt swiftly to new demands. Canada’s commitment to environmental sustainability influences economic policy and investment, impacting industries across the board. On top of that Canada has, like many other parts of the world, priorities linked to skilled trades, migrants, D&I, and the integration of AI into the workforce to name but a few.

Anticipated Changes in the Next 12 Months

The coming year is critical for Canada as it seeks to bolster economic growth while addressing environmental and social goals. Economists predict moderate growth as the country continues to recover from the impacts of global economic volatility. Sectors such as technology, renewable energy, and healthcare are expected to expand, while traditional industries may see slower growth. The government and the private sector are likely to invest heavily in innovation, particularly in green technology and digital infrastructure.

The Unemployment Challenge

Despite a generally stable economy, Canada faces unemployment challenges, particularly among young people, immigrants, and sectors affected by technological disruption and the transition to a greener economy. The current transformation focus is on improving the effectiveness of employability support in Ontario. This is an interesting environment to be operating as this transformation agenda has replaced all public employment services in the region. All contracted SSMs (Prime Contractors in the UK) are tasked with developing and then delivering better employability support services and outcomes.

Contributing Factors to Unemployment and Where Employability Services are Crucial.

A mismatch between the skills of the workforce and the requirements of the evolving job market is a real and present problem. As some sectors contract and others expand, workers in declining industries face job losses. The transition towards a more sustainable and technologically driven economy necessitates a realignment of the workforce. In this context, employability services emerge as critical agents of change, capable of bridging the gap between job seekers and the evolving demands of the Canadian economy. So, what do we need to do?

The solution is a series of strategic interventions

  1. Reskilling and Upskilling Initiatives – Developing programs focused on the future needs of the economy, such as digital literacy, green skills, and advanced manufacturing techniques.
  2. Employability / Careers advice and Support – Providing personalised career counselling and employability skills development to navigate the changing job landscape, emphasising emerging sectors and entrepreneurship as well as the skills to get there.
  3. Industry Collaboration – Working closely with industries to forecast future skills needs and tailor training programs accordingly.
  4. Entrepreneurial Support – Encouraging innovation through support for startups and small businesses, particularly in sustainable and technology-driven fields.
  5. Digital Inclusion Efforts – Ensuring broad access to digital training and resources, particularly for communities at risk of being left behind in the digital economy.
  6. Targeted Assistance for Vulnerable Populations – Offering specialised programs for groups facing higher unemployment rates, such as recent immigrants, indigenous communities, and the youth.

The coming year presents a critical opportunity for Canada to leverage its economic strengths while addressing the pressing challenges of unemployment and sectorial shifts.

Employability services, through strategic and responsive interventions, have the potential to play a pivotal role in not just facilitating immediate job matches but also in preparing the Canadian workforce for the demands of the future economy.

In essence, as Canada navigates the complexities of a rapidly changing global and domestic economic landscape, the adaptability, innovation, and targeted support provided by employability services will be key to unlocking the potential of the workforce and ensuring sustainable economic growth and the provinces are investing huge amounts of resources through large scale commissioning to tackle these issues head-on through the excellent work of employability providers and their staff teams.

The IEP is now in Canada supporting our partners, Fedcap Canada, to build on their capacity and capability to deliver more much-needed services to support Canadians across Ontario.

By Scott Parkin FIEP, Group Chief Executive, Institute of Employability Professionals (IEP)

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