Technology or trades may be the key to the Canadian job market in 2022 – The Globe and Mail

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Last year, Eva Sage-Gavin, a managing director responsible for global talent at Accenture, and Kelly Monahan, an organizational behaviourist, addressed a room of C-suite executives who wanted a peek into the future. Specifically, they wanted to know what companies needed to do to prepare for work in the coming years.
The pair bluntly told their audience to automate and digitize their operations. Some months after that meeting, they followed up their message by publishing a research project that underscored the imperative need for companies to become digitally fluent.
That message is something those in education, training or at the beginning of their careers should pay close attention to. Workers need to arm themselves with technical skills if they want economic stability and prosperity, and in particular, if they want to obtain what are called “opportunity jobs.”
Opportunity jobs are the opposite of gig work. Opportunity jobs offer aspirants a chance to make a steady and high- income livelihood and insulate themselves against future shocks in the labour market.
“Technical skills, especially those that include operational analyses, sciences, programming and systems evaluation – provide clear pathways to these opportunity jobs,” wrote Ms. Sage-Gavin and Dr. Monahan. “Technical skills were always important, but the sense of urgency of obtaining them has never been more critical.”
As the pandemic recedes and Canada enters a recovery phase, it will have to play catch-up in terms of skills performance.
In the 2021 Global Skills Index report from online course platform Coursera, Canada was ranked 55th globally in terms of competency for business, technology, and data science skills. For its study, the company said it analyzed performance data of more than 77 million learners enrolled on their platform, looking at factors such as the number of students enrolled in each course, grades, and even how long learners spent on assignments.
In worldwide standings, Canada trails far behind leaders Switzerland, Luxembourg and Norway in digital-economy skills such as operating systems, cloud computing, and mathematics. Ironically, despite the stability of its banking system, Canada lagged in finance skills. It also underperformed in several different comparisons of financial-sector competitiveness.
Once a top-10 country in the world in mathematics education, Canada has seen its ranking and math scores drop over the past 15 years, according to Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
The Coursera report lays out the skillsets needed for entry-level and mid-level jobs in the post-pandemic labour markets, organized across three main groupings. The company also notes (though perhaps self-interestedly) that many employees may be overlooking the opportunity to obtain these skills online. According to the report, 75 per cent of active learners spend less than three hours per week on the coursework to advance their careers.
These were the top trending skills in North America:
The future of work will demand that people develop their skills and learn new ones throughout their careers. According to job portal Indeed, health care, trade, hospitality, and information technology (IT) are industries with the most in-demand careers in Canada.
Some of the job opportunities that are presently emerging in Canada are construction estimator, software engineer, web developer, financial adviser, home health aide, industrial electrician, medical technologist, nursing assistant, occupational therapist, pharmacist, physical therapy aide, statistician, truck driver and pipefitter.
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Leadership Lab is a series where executives, experts and writers share their views and advice about the world of work. You can find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.
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