The Labour Market

The term “labour market” refers to the supply of and demand for labour, along with wage rates. Therefore, if we wonder about unemployment rates, the availability of work in certain industries or occupations, or how much one might expect to earn (or pay) for particular work in particular regions, we are talking about the labour market.

Why is this important for job searching? Well, having general knowledge about the labour market can help you understand various factors that affect your job search efforts, including decisions you make around where to look for work, which jobs employers are hiring for, and what the range of pay is.

Sectors and Industries

An industry is “a group of companies that are related based on their primary business activities”, and industries can be grouped together into larger categories called sectors[1]. In Canada, we use the NAICS to organize companies into industries and sectors. Canada uses the North American Industry Classification System (or NAICS) to define how sectors and industries are organized.

Using the NAICS can form a valuable part of understanding the job market and informing your job search. For example, let’s say you are planning to apply for a job but you’re not certain what the employer does. A simple web search using NAICS and the company name can help.

Occupations: The NOC and the Job Bank

An occupation is “a person’s usual or principal work or business, especially as a means of earning a living”[2]. The National Occupational Classification (NOC) is a reference framework for all occupations in Canada: it provides descriptions of over 30,000 job titles, including information on the education and experience required to work in each occupation.

The Government of Canada’s Job Bank web site is a great place to search for jobs, set up job alerts, learn about the prospects for employment in your target occupation, and more.

Have you completed (or will you complete) studies in a particular field, but you’re not quite sure what that means for a target occupation? The Job Bank’s career planning tool will allow you to search occupations by ‘field of study’. Your home insitution will also likely have resources that you can make use of, such as Trent University’s “What Can I Do With My Degree?” index.

Occupational regulations, associations, and societies

A number of occupations have specific requirements that candidates must meet beyond a certain level of education or experience. For example, there are a number of regulated professions in Ontario, meaning the law prevents anyone from practicing in the occupation unless they have the proper license or certification. Some examples include physicians, teachers, and psychologists.

For some occupations, you must obtain a specific license or certification and/or be a member of a specific association. The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials offers a search function to help you identify if your target occupation is linked to any regulatory authorities and/or professional associations.

Let’s say you’re planning a career as a primary school teacher. Follow the instructions below and then complete the following activities:

  • Go to the CICIC’s Directory of occupational profiles for Ontario.
  • In the blank under Keywords, type “teacher”.
  • From the options that appear, click the one that ends in (CNP 4032).
  • Scroll down and click Refine Search.
  • From the results (at the bottom), click Elementary school and kindergarten teachers.
  • Scroll to “Contact the regulatory authority” and click ON for Ontario.

A classic manila folder--a page peeks out from inside itPortfolio Activity #20 – Labour Market Research

Let’s practice searching for Ontario Labour Market Information for details about your target occupation!

  • Go to the Ontario labour market web site.
  • In the text box, start typing your goal job title or related occupational keywords
  • From the options that appear, click the one that best describes your target occupation.
  • Click Search.
  • Click the occupation link that appears under “Total occupations found”.
  • You should now see the Ontario labour market profile for your target occupation.

If there are relevant organizations listed for your target occupation, it’s wise for you to investigate what they are in case they’re important or even necessary for you to secure employment in your target occupation. Remember to take note of any web site URLs so you can continue to research this important aspect of your target occupation! Depending on a number of factors including where you live, it may be practical to focus your job search efforts in industries where your occupation is most likely to be employed. Lastly, don’t forget about the NAICS! You can look up each of your top 3 industries on the NAICS and click through the industry groups to explore prospects with employers in various industry subcategories.

To find labour market information for regions across Canada, go to the Trend Analysis section of the Job Bank. Here you can explore the labour market by occupation, region, wage, and prospects for employment.

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