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Two ways we can connect more adults to career services in Canada

In Canada, only 19% of adults report using career services – lower than in other OECD countries.

Recently LMIC launched its latest insight report in partnership with the Future Skills Centre (FSC). Are Adults Making Use of Career Services in Canada? looks at the rate at which adults aged 25-64 use career services in Canada.

The report found that many adults in Canada don’t know what career services are, and they’re unsure about what services career professionals can provide them.

Here’s why that’s important: the rate of people changing jobs has been growing month-to-month as the economy slowly recovers from its pandemic-related lows of 2020, and 297,000 people left their jobs or remained without work in October 2021. Canadians are making big decisions about their careers, and most of them are doing it without guidance.

So, what can we do to encourage more adults to take advantage of career development services – and why should we?

We need to build a broader understanding of what career development is.

The LMIC – FSC report shows that people often consult their own trusted networks of friends and family – their “career influencers” – about important career decisions, and feel they are getting the information they need from these networks.

This points to a need to build a broader understanding and awareness of what career development is, and the unique expertise and value career professionals can offer to adults. People who are preparing for their next career transition should be well-equipped to make informed career decisions – and their friends and family should be able to refer them to career professionals when it’s most needed.

There is a growing career and employment service delivery ecosystem in Canada, but a lack of common language, supports and capacity means that many adults are unaware of the services offered and the possible outcomes.

Career professionals offer an important and complex set of services that help adults determine their interests, beliefs, values, skills and competencies, and connect those to market needs.

In Canada, we need to do more to help the general public, and the adult population in particular, understand what exactly career development services are and how they can take advantage of these services as they navigate career transitions.

We need to make sure career professionals are equipped with the information Canadians need most.  

The report also shows that, when adults do access career services, the skills requirements of jobs are the most often-requested type of information.

But skills requirements are also the most challenging type of data for career professionals to access.

Tools like LMIC’s Canadian Online Jobs Posting Dashboard are one way that career professionals can learn about emerging trends in skills needs and gaps in the Canadian labour force, and an upcoming refresh to that dashboard in 2022 will make this important data easier for professionals to find.

Skills requirements must be basic information that anyone in Canada can easily access on their own.

We’re working on it – it is a priority of LMIC and FSC’s Career Development Stakeholder Committee. But we have a way to go before this data is truly accessible and easily understood.

Another way we can support career professionals is to expand the learning opportunities available to them. LMIC and CCDF are developing a micro-credential learning series to support professionals in learning more about how to navigate labour market information and the available data.

The outcomes of individuals have a broad impact. 

If career professionals have the tools and visibility they need to better reach adults in Canada, the impact will not only be at the individual level.  

Individual outcomes have positive social and economic implications for our country. As Pete Robertson recently shared, realizing the full potential of career development services could help us address many of the Sustainable Development Goals, such as health and well-being, environmental change, and peace and justice.  

With over 15 million adults in Canada aged 25-64, even a small increase in 19% of adults accessing career services could have a tremendous impact. 

Candy Ho is the inaugural Assistant Professor, Integrative Career and Capstone Learning in the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Candy currently serves as Vice Chair of CERIC, a Canadian charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development, in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians. This blog post is reposted with permission from LMIC.

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.