Understanding Labour Market Information

Posted: 12.03.2015
An Article by Possibilities (www.poss.ca)

The labour market is fluid and ever-changing. A field with great job opportunities today may be stagnant in a few years time. How can you determine which sectors and careers will ride the tide? Study the labour market to find out if your chosen career is likely to evolve to experience long-term growth. 

What It Is

Labour Market Information (LMI) includes employment rates, the average age of workers in particular fields, the retirement rate, salaries, educational requirements, job duties and required credentials.
Job opportunities generally arise because of retirements or other vacancies, or because economic activity has led to the creation of new jobs. But the labour market is also affected by external factors such as politics or new legislation.

Service industries are particularly sensitive to changes in demographics. Consumer behaviour or social trends also greatly affect the labour market. For example, Canada's aging population and our new-found addiction to cosmetic dentistry has increased demand for dental technicians.

Globalization of trade has also had a big impact on the marketplace.
Arguably the biggest source of labour market change is technological innovation. For example, factory workers might be replaced with robotics, which leads to an increase in demand for workers who can design, operate and maintain this technology.

Why It Matters

All levels of government and many professional organizations collect various types of labour market information to try to predict upcoming labour shortages, training needs, what jobs will become obsolete, and which are emerging.

Job seekers can use this information in very much the same way. Knowing what the market looks like can help you determine the following:
  • Which sectors are hiring
  • The outlook for particular fields
  • What industries the government is trying to bolster (for example, the foreseen shortage of skilled trades workers has led the government to fund training programs and to support employers willing to take on apprentices)
  • Required skills for particular jobs (so you can develop them or highlight them on your résumé)
You can also use this information to determine salary range, the duties you will be expected to perform and any certification or licensing you may require.

How to Use the Information

To make the most of the labour market information available you have to determine the questions you most want answered.
For job seekers trying to find a new career, information on emerging fields and fields experiencing staff shortages might be your starting point. Next you will want to investigate the education and certification required for the fields that interest you. When deciding between a number of career options, you should also investigate salary, common work hours and working conditions.

If you have already determined a career path, look at information about employment rates in your field. If the outlook is poor, you may want to investigate similar fields where you can make use of your training.

For example, if you are a journalist and jobs at local newspapers and magazines are scarce, you may want to look to the emerging opportunities in web writing or to the communications and public relations fields for writing opportunities.

Remember that many careers can transfer easily from sector to sector. For example, an accountant having trouble finding a job in a private firm may want to see what the employment rates look like in the public sector since keeping accounts is a factor for all types of business.
The following is a list of questions to ask when looking at career options:
  • What are the long-term prospects?
  • What is the salary range?
  • What education is needed?
  • What is the average unemployment rate?
  • In what location is the work likely to be needed?
  • Is there a large retirement rate in the particular field?
  • How will technology affect the field?
  • What are the physical requirements of the job and the hours of work?
The answers to all of these questions can be found using labour market information.

Where to Find the Information

You can find labour market information by reading the business section of the paper, watching the local news or even checking help wanted signs in your neighbourhood.

If you are interested in a career in fashion, Flare magazine may offer you some useful career information. If you work in the skilled trades, reading the condo section of the Toronto Star might provide insight into where the next major round of construction is going to happen. You can also find information on job boards, career fairs and government sites.

Other LMI sources include business directories, annual reports, business books, statistics and economic outlook reports compiled by financial institutions, chambers of commerce or the Toronto Training Board.
Professional associations and unions also put out relevant information. Trade publications, newspapers and magazines such as Canadian Business also provide LMI. Another great way to get career information is by interviewing people who work in the field.

You can find many of these resources on the web. If you prefer to do your research by reading newspapers or reports, Employment Resource Centres and libraries also keep up-to-date labour market information on hand.

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