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Building a decision-based framework to understand Labour Market Information (LMI) needs

For Labour Market Information (LMI) to be accessible, relevant and suitable for meeting the diverse needs of Canadians, it must consider who is using LMI and what they are using it for. Framing LMI appropriately requires a thorough understanding of the decisions that users face, while accounting for an individual’s unique circumstances. In the wake of COVID-19, decision-making has become even more difficult and career development practitioners are coping with urgent, escalating client needs.

In December 2020, the Future Skills Centre (FSC) and the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) announced a partnership to address these issues by piloting an open cloud-based data repository to facilitate and streamline access to practical, relevant information. As we begin this pilot project, we are developing a framework to support our data decisions and assist us in collecting, transforming and presenting relevant information.

Executive summary

Every day, Canadians and the organizations that support them seek labour market information that is difficult to access or that is not sufficiently tailored to meet their individual needs.

In 2018, LMIC identified the lack of individually relevant LMI as one of several persistent information gaps in Canada. Next, LMIC surveyed over 20,000 individuals and businesses across ten user groups (e.g., persons with disabilities, current students, recent immigrants, etc.) to better understand the LMI needs of each. We learned that the types of data individuals seek — such as wages and work requirements — are remarkably consistent across these broad user groups and demographic categories. Subsequent analysis with members of each group, however, indicated a wide array of priorities regarding how the information should be transformed, curated and presented in an individually relevant context.

The challenge we now face is to define and identify individuals’ relevant contexts to maximize the potential impact of LMI on their outcomes. In general, the context that makes labour market information — or any information — relevant rests on two key questions. First, who is using the information? The identity of an LMI user will depend, in part, on their demographics, but also their background, personal characteristics and preferences, all of which influence how individuals understand and interact with LMI. Second, what is it being used for? The intended use for LMI will depend on what decisions the person faces and what transitions they navigate.

To deliver LMI that is contextualized to the widest set of audiences, we narrow the scope by focusing on the latter question while maintaining flexibility with respect to the former. To do so, we develop a framework that draws on career development theory. Specifically, we expand Super’s (1980) Life-Span, Life-Space model to incorporate the identity of an LMI user through the roles they play and the job-related decisions they make as they move between life stages. Our framework identifies five key labour market decisions that most individuals encounter as they navigate the world of work and progress in their work and life. In this report we focus on these key decision points to derive insights into the types and structure of labour market information most relevant to each decision.

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