Polygon Created with Sketch. FSC Skills Central Blog

Career development and guidance services are crucial to Canadian recovery

A skilled, resilient workforce that can navigate change will be vital to Canada’s ability to enter into a new phase of economic prosperity. 

In the labour force of the future, people will need to learn new and varied skills throughout their career trajectories. According to a new analysis, however, the use of career services among adults in Canada lags well behind that of other OECD countries. 

The study, Career guidance for adults in Canada, was released by the Organisation for Economic Development  (OECD) and sponsored by the Future Skills Centre (FSC) and the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC). It revealed that only one in five (19%) of Canadians used career development services in the past five years, about half the rate of the other OECD countries that undertook similar studies. 

Low uptake of career services in Canada

An average of 43% of adults in Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the US used a career guidance advisor over the same period. Among the reasons cited by Canadian survey respondents for the lower uptake of career guidance services were lack of awareness of the availability of career services, not feeling the need to obtain these services, and a lack of time due to work and/or family responsibilities. In fact, the time commitment is a bigger obstacle preventing Canadians from using career guidance services than is the case for their peers in other countries.

An important difference between Canada and the other participating countries is when Canadians make use of career guidance services. Canadians who are more confident about their future labour market prospects are almost twice as likely to have used career guidance services than those who feel negatively. Canadian adults are less likely than their international counterparts to seek guidance when they want to progress in their current job (27% versus 40%).

In 2017, the Advisory Council on Economic Growth noted that 10% of workers would be affected by career transitions by 2030. More recently, McKinsey & Company increased that figure, projecting that 25% more workers would need to switch occupations than previously assumed. Given both anticipated and unanticipated disruptions that Canadians will need to navigate, it is notable that Canadians may not be using career guidance services when they perceive their labour market positions to be vulnerable and when they want to progress in their current roles. 

Informed choices are crucial

Adult learning and career guidance are key policy levers to address these challenges and facilitate a post-pandemic employment recovery. This support can help individuals make informed choices about work and learning so they gain new skills that enable them to transition to in-demand jobs and reduce economic disparity. 

At FSC, we are exploring ways to use these findings to boost the uptake in career services in the Canadian labour force. We work with our consortium partners and system leaders to identify critical gaps and needs in our current career guidance and employment systems. We want to make sure everyone has the advice and guidance they need to make well-informed career choices. By providing valuable labour market information and access to career guidance and training, FSC is helping people in Canada to enhance their skills and transition to jobs that will be in greater demand in the future.  

Projects enhance skills

One important example is In Motion & Momentum, led by the Canadian Career Development Foundation. This project is directly focused on career development support, especially for people who are at a greater distance from the labour market, helping them acquire key life and employability skills.

EDGE UP helps workers in Alberta’s oil and gas industry transition into jobs in the burgeoning information technology sector. Since the first cohort launched, more than 70% of participants are employed in tech jobs or are furthering their education. This is a successful example of an approach that supports people in making the shifts that will be needed to thrive in the workforce of the future when disruption occurs in a sector.

Finally, another innovation is OpportuNext, a free, online career tool created by FSC and the Conference Board of Canada. It helps Canadians to plan their career path with labour market evidence about jobs and skills to help job seekers determine the next step in their careers and navigate career transitions more easily.

FSC is interested in how to make incremental improvements and transformative changes that foster greater uptake of career services among Canadian adults. We encourage outreach and communication and invite you to contact us (noel.baldwin@fsc-ccf.ca or nancy.adossi@fsc-ccf.ca) if you would like to contribute to this discussion. 

Noel Baldwin is director of government and public affairs and Nancy Adossi is a senior bilingual policy analyst at FSCThis blog was originally published on Careerwise and is reprinted with permission.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint, official policy or position of the Future Skills Centre or any of its staff members or consortium partners.