I remember walking into my school guidance counsellor’s office during my last year of high school, just before the Christmas holidays. Anxious with anticipation, I was hoping to walk out with a clear step-by-step manual for how to have a successful career. While working with the counsellor, Leah, it quickly became apparent that careers are not as straight forward as Ikea furniture instructions.
Career practitioners like Leah are vital partners in supporting Canadians in making education, training and career decisions, and in navigating labour market information. This is why, as part of our ongoing Public Opinion Research Project, we surveyed 873 career practitioners across Canada to better understand how they use LMI in their practice.
What do career practitioners need?
Our survey shows that nearly all career practitioners incorporate LMI into the advice they give clients. They mainly provide information on the skill and education requirements of jobs and on wages because this is what clients ask for. In fact, clients often go to career counsellors with specific questions in mind. Like many Canadians, I only knocked on the counsellor’s door when I had my mind set on a business program and wanted to know how to land my dream job. Specifically, I wanted to know if graduating from that specific program would be enough to guarantee that dream job. If not, I wanted to know what other training or experience I should seek during my studies.
Most of the information I wanted was out there, some online and some in the career development brochures in Leah’s office, but I didn’t know where to start. It turns out I wasn’t alone. Canadians often struggle to find and make sense of LMI on their own. Career practitioners face high expectations when asked to find the required information for their clients’ journeys. Those expectations are often difficult to meet. Two out of five practitioners face hurdles in finding and understanding the available information themselves.
Improving training is one part of the solution, though only a small portion of career practitioners who received specialized training thought it had an impact on their practice. Another important avenue is making LMI better. Our survey found that career practitioners and individual Canadians, including students, value timely, user-friendly, trustworthy and publicly available information. They are eager for better job outlooks (i.e., which occupations will grow or decline) for specific locations, be it their city, region or elsewhere.
At different points throughout our careers, we will find ourselves at unexpected crossroads, trying to determine what to do next and how to get there. Finding information on how the job market functions is part of that equation, but it can be hard to make sense of it alone. Career practitioners are the best placed to support us in that process.
At LMIC, we believe career practitioners are central in ensuring that Canadians make informed job-related decisions. This is why we continue to engage with the professional community to identify the gaps in LMI and how we can bridge them. This is essential in providing Canadians with the insight they need to make the best possible career decisions.
Emna Braham is a Senior Economist with LMIC. She is currently working to assess the state of labour market information in Canada and conducting forward-looking research in collaboration with stakeholders.