Helping Canadians navigate a changing job market

By: Pedro Barata, Susan Black

This op-ed was originally published by iPolitics on April 8, 2021.

New tool can help job seekers and employers better adapt to the future of work

The global pandemic has hit Canada’s employment landscape hard and forced many Canadians to transition to new opportunities in search of stability. Many jobs in industries such as travel, hospitality and retail have temporarily vanished, causing tens of thousands of people to look for new employment opportunities.

Helping Canadians adapt to these very real and accelerating changes in their careers is a central challenge in how we envision a future of shared prosperity in Canada. With this in mind, The Conference Board of Canada and the Future Skills Centre have developed “OpportuNext” as a tangible response to the disruptions impacting Canada’s job market.

A free-to-use online tool, OpportuNext is designed to help job placement organizations, job seekers and employers navigate career transition pathways more easily. It provides insights and information to facilitate career transitions and will assist employers who are looking for innovative solutions to their human resources challenges.

OpportuNext arrives at a critical time. Employment in Canada fell by more than 15% in just two months last year and the unemployment rate rose above 13% in March 2020, according to Statistics Canada. This is especially the case for women, indigenous people, and youth who were disproportionately impacted by the sudden and dramatic shift in Canada’s labour force.

While the employment rate in Canada has gradually improved and is now below 9%, the pandemic has caused dramatic changes in the career paths of Canadian workers, many of whom find that they do not have a job to return to as we emerge from a year of near-constant lockdown measures. Many employers have already accelerated their use of automation and moved services online, eliminating jobs in the process. The recovery will take time, and the economic disruption will be felt very differently across economic sectors.

Even before COVID-19, Canada’s job market was undergoing unprecedented, accelerated change due to several factors, including rapid technological innovations, changing consumer trends, and changing business models. Fortunately, skills databases like OpportuNext can help members of the skills development ecosystem (universities, employment agencies, human resources professionals, job seekers) identify opportunities and plan career transitions, access relevant resources and pair suitable candidates with meaningful work.

OpportuNext represents a critical step as it fully relies on market evidence to make recommendations and guide decisions about jobs and skills. Market knowledge and resources are now available to support users in finding the next steps in their new careers.

How does this tool work? OpportuNext is designed to help Canadian’s transition into a worthwhile new career and assist employers in finding the workers they need in today’s global economy. Users will find that the OpportuNext tool is intuitive, responsive, and easy to use. Users can enter basic information such as their job title, and OpportuNext will then suggest job options using a database of 13 billion job characteristics. The tool identifies careers that require similar skills, abilities and experience’ along with job salary and career outlook information.

This support can considerably facilitate emerging transition careers and options that would not have been considered previously by the users.

OpportuNext is a unique innovation and brings a much-needed tool, designed to follow and respond to the multiple changes impacting Canada’s job market. Online resources such as OpportuNext can be invaluable to employers looking for innovative solutions to their human resources challenges and will bring an important support to Canadian job seekers and employers in their effort to move towards economic recovery and a more stable Canadian labour market.