Jobs outlook looks positive in Canada

September 17, 2017

By Canadian Immigrant Magazine |

What direction is the Canadian labour market going? Canadian Immigrant takes a look at current stats, and some of the in-demand professions today and for the future.

A positive path
To look at the numbers, the jobs outlook in Canada is moving down a positive path.

This spring, the labour market saw a strong wave of new jobs, as hiring rose in the private sector, particularly in full-time work, according to Statistics Canada. And the national unemployment rate declined this July to 6.3 per cent. That’s the lowest rate since October 2008, before the onset of the 2008 global economic downturn.

Things are looking up. When you look at the past 12 months, employment rose by more than 2.1 per cent, or 353,500 jobs, the bulk of which have been in full-time work. In July alone, the economy created 35,100 full-time jobs while dropping 24,300 part-time jobs.

While the job gain in July was actually lower than the average over the previous few months, the numbers point to a healthy labour market.

Top job areas
There are also more job vacancies. That’s a good sign for newcomers looking for work, but not all industries are alike. Certain areas of the Canadian labour market are more in hiring mode than others. So, what are the top areas overall?

Statistics Canada’s July 2017 Labour Force Survey noted a rise in employment in wholesale and retail trade, continuing an upward trend since late 2016. And the number of people working in manufacturing rose by 14,000 this July, the third notable gain in five months. This increase in manufacturing was mainly in Quebec. Nationally, manufacturing jobs are up by more than three per cent compared to last year, translating to 53,000 jobs.

In transportation and warehousing, employment increased by 8,400 in July, largely in Ontario, again seeing an overall upward trend from last year.

Some industries are also reporting labour gaps. A need for workers in Ontario’s construction and agriculture sectors is the motivation behind the provincial immigration department’s new Employer Job Offer In-Demand Skills Stream. The focus is on the following jobs: installers and servicers, heavy equipment operators, farmhands, greenhouse and nursery labourers, construction workers, and butchers and meat handlers.

In British Columbia, health care remains a top industry. Not only is it one of the largest sectors in terms of number of workers, but it is also one of the fastest-growing industries, with employment growing at an average rate of 3.2 per cent each year in the past decade, according to WorkBC. Some of the top jobs include registered nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, ultrasonographer, medical lab technologist, among others. Employment in the health sector is forecast to increase by an annual average rate of 2.3 per cent to 2025.

IT also continues to be a hot industry in B.C. and across Canada. According to Randstad Canada, the hottest technology trends of 2017 revolve around development and data analysis. Coding ability also remains incredibly in demand, due to slow growth of talent in this sector (Java is the most in-demand programming language, with SQL, C# and web development languages such as HTML, CSS and PHP not far behind.

Future outlook
Looking to the future nationally, we asked Employment and Social Development Canada what else we can expect, and the focus across the board seems to be on higher skilled workers. According to spokesperson Josh Bueckert, “Over the next few years, the best outlooks for the Canadian economy will be concentrated in many occupations, including those related to health, social sciences, business, finance and administration.”

For example, in Ontario, the best outlooks are for occupations requiring post-secondary credentials or management skills, particularly in natural and applied sciences, as well as in sales and services, explains Bueckert.

“For Alberta, occupations in education and agriculture will also experience good outlooks. Similarly, in British Columbia, occupations related to education, as well as manufacturing and utilities show the most promise.”

These trends indicate that jobseekers with a higher education and management skills, across a variety of sectors, have good prospects.

On the flip side, Bueckert points out that career opportunities are declining in some lower skilled work. “Over the next few years, occupations requiring at most a high school diploma or on-the-job training, especially in primary industries, including agriculture, mining, forestry, fishing and hunting, are expected to have the least favourable outlooks.”

What’s influencing such changes? “The labour market is influenced most by technological changes, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, posing challenges in terms of displacing workers,” Bueckert notes, adding that another challenge is ensuring that appropriate workers are in place to take advantage of these technologies (see our related story “Automation at work”).

“This trend is at the forefront with regards to the impacts on the labour market, while globalization and the effects of demographics and an aging workforce continue to have important consequences, [too].”

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