by Carol Wiens, Labour Force Development Lead
I’ve chosen a topic that for the most part is usually met with glazed over eyes, yawns, dropping of the head and perhaps a verbal response,
Well hopefully this blog will be met with a bit of curiosity, a better understanding of how Labour Market Trends affect you on a personal level and maybe, just maybe, some information that may inspire you to think about it on a global level.
Somebody needs to explain in practical terms what is going on out there? I’m going to attempt to do just that. Come on, you can get through this!
When we think about Labour Market Trends we generally think local:
What’s happening in Regina? What’s the chance of getting employment in the career of my choice, right here at home?
Let’s start by talking about Labour Market trends right here in Saskatchewan. Where does our province generate revenue besides taxation? Saskatchewan is known for its commodities.
What’s a commodity? It’s a raw material that’s bought and sold.
So what do we sell to other provinces and around the world? Some familiar ones might include:
- Agriculture based including grains, pork, beef, dairy, etc.
- Oil & Gas and Potash.
What we sell is based on customer demand, and if there is no demand for the product, it trickles down to companies or businesses that rely on those sales. Any trade uncertainties influence this demand even more. If they are not able to sell their product (commodity) it may result in lay-offs, downsizing, wage reductions or closure, which directly impacts employment in our province. In a recent article, with a heading ‘Businesses tightening belts…tough environment for commodities means its ‘adapt or die’ for many firms’. Most companies recognize that in order to survive amid what the “new norm” for Saskatchewan businesses is they have to adjust by cutting costs that they can control. Macpherson, A. (2019, January, 7). Businesses tightening belts. Regina Leader Post
What other areas need to be considered when we talk about trends? Here’s one—let’s talk about the number of people employed in our province.
In 2018, approximately 569,000 people were employed in Saskatchewan. “The private sector led employment gains adding 4,800 positions. Meanwhile, the public sector remained virtually unchanged and the number of self-employed dropped 2,600.” (https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/content_pieces-eng.do?cid=14075&lang=eng)
Let’s focus on employment and growth in one sector that is common to job seekers visiting Work Prep– construction:
In 2017 and 2018 construction is one of the sectors that contributed to a lack of growth and decline, with virtually no change in the number of jobs year over year. (http://www.scaonline.ca/ckfinder/userfiles/files/SCA%20LF%20analysis%20Apr%202018(1).pdf)
When creating or analyzing statistics on the labour market, other considerations may include:
- education levels,
- minimum wage,
- employed, or under employed,
- inter-provincial migration,
- consumer price indices, and
- International Trade.
As part of my role at Work Prep, I need to do extensive research on labour market trends. In a recent article I read, I was interested to see this statement:
“Everywhere we turn, work is changing. Some jobs are disappearing; others are being completely redesigned. At the same time, new jobs are being created. Often these jobs are due to technology, but that isn’t always the case.”
So let’s think big picture now, how do Global Labour Market Trends affect us directly, right here in Regina? Here is a quick example:
The government of the United States made the decision to impose unprecedented tariffs on Canadian steel being imported to the U.S. Evraz North America—the big manufacturing plant—just north of Regina, is the only producer of this product in Canada, so high tariffs directly impact the company, and their ability to sell their steel at a competitive price. If they do not sell it, or sell it at a price that makes money, jobs are impacted. Saskatchewan, and ultimately Canada’s relationships with other countries effects our ability to trade on an international level, not only steel but many other products our citizens are involved in producing, every day.
Am I losing you yet? Hang in there, it’s getting even more interesting, honest!
Work roles are changing; it used to be that you applied for full time or part time work and those were the only options. Now employers are changing the scope of the workforce, with more temp. contracts, freelance work and entrepreneurship. These changes come with benefits, and challenges. This new way of work if referred to as the “gig” economy, and while it could mean more freedom and work life balance, it also impacts access to employee benefits, including worker’s compensation coverage, employment insurance and employee health and dental benefits. In addition to the risk of losing the benefits listed above, if you’re working in a gig role, it’s just like a band—you have to make sure you have enough gigs to survive. (https://ceric.ca/2017/06/ethical-practice-in-the-gig-economy/)
Another influential change influencing jobs today is the increased use of mechanical automation in place of jobs. In fact, it’s predicted that more than 40% of jobs are vulnerable to some level of automation. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/automation-job-brookfield-1.3636253)
In a recent article on technological change, Sarah Lubick describes this is more detail: “Right now, we are in a period of unprecedented change and uncertainty in the dynamics of the career market. Rapid advances in mechanical automation and artificial intelligence will see many existing roles supported by technology and many new roles created.” (https://ceric.ca/fr/2017/06/entrepreneurship-will-become-a-must-have-career-skill-for-navigating-technological-change-and-an-uncertain-future/)
Change in the labour market is inevitable and understanding how these changes influence your career decisions and your ability to be prepared to enter the labour market is based on knowledge. Take time out to educate yourself on these trends in order to make informed decisions. Listen to the news, read newspapers, talk to others, including your Case Manager’s at Regina Work Preparation Centre.
I could probably go on and on but I suspect that for some this is quite enough and I hope I’ve at least given you some food for thought and information about what’s happening in our Labour Market.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!