How has COVID-19 affected the career development sector?
With the shutdown of non-essential businesses and organizations across Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to far-reaching impacts across all labour market sectors. Front-line workers are coping with longer shifts, health and safety concerns, and escalating client needs within this new reality. Many businesses are trying to maintain continuity by working remotely when possible. Whether finding creative new ways to adapt and evolve or struggling to adjust to new challenges, none of us are living status quo these days.
The career development sector is no exception. While some career development professionals (CDPs) have been laid-off, many are working long hours to meet new and increasing demands. The career development sector serves all Canadians, including those hardest hit by this pandemic. CDPs are rallying, both to find solutions for people in crisis now and to proactively help Canadians move toward recovery.
What are the current challenges?
Career development professionals help Canadians of all ages and stages throughout their careers, from students exploring future possibilities to those shifting from paid work to retirement. Different people experience different challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Just a few examples include the following:
- Those struggling with poverty, domestic violence, illness or homelessness need crisis intervention. Many cannot safely self-isolate or access clean water or hygiene supplies. Those without phones or computers cannot access the socio-health services they require.
- Final-year high school students are in limbo. They have limited access to career supports at a time when they need to transition to post-secondary education (PSE) or the workforce.
- Students who rely on summer jobs to fund their education have seen their earning opportunities dwindle.
- PSE students in their final year face immense competition in trying to join the labour market when more experienced workers are being laid-off.
- All students are juggling the unexpected shift to online studies. They grapple with ongoing unpredictability, concerns about their academic progress and the extreme difficulty of accessing internships or co-op placements.
- With dramatic rises in unemployment, more people than ever before need help. Whether accessing emergency response programs or re-inventing themselves to search for work in a different sector, the demand for career development services is significant and growing.
CDPs are working with Canadians to address these challenges, but many public career services are under-funded and struggle to access training/professional development and evidence-based resources/tools.
How can good LMI help going forward?
CDPs are on the front line of supporting Canadians as they transition to the post-COVID-19 labour market. Now, more than ever, Canada needs a healthy career development ecosystem and timely labour market information (LMI) to ensure that CDPs can respond effectively to expected spikes in demand. In addition to adequate resourcing (human and financial), training and tools, the following targeted LMI is needed:
- A reliable one-stop, plain language information portal that describes all current emergency relief programs offered by federal and provincial/territorial governments
- LMI on sectors and occupations in which demand is expected to increase
- LMI on the skill requirements in current/projected growth sectors and specific jobs and how these match skill sets associated with other sectors/occupations in order to identify opportunities for transferability
- LMI on existing, new and emerging training opportunities — both occupation-specific and more generic, such as technology training to support remote work
- Rapid collection and dissemination of LMI on sectors/occupations with a wide range of jobs that can be performed remotely
LMIC is actively working to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market in Canada and how it can help support Canadians navigate an increasingly complex world of work. To that end, identifying in-demand occupations and their work requirements (skills/training) is critical. Now is the time for collaboration, creativity and courage. The career development sector is grateful to LMIC and all those working with us to better meet the career needs of Canadians.