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January 2024

Navigating labour market information: Challenges faced by career development professionals

Career development professionals understand LMI but are challenged by the complexity of accessing and using it to generate relevant results for their clients.

Illustration by Dorothy Leung for LMIC.

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Key Findings

Some labour market information is challenging to find. Career development professionals must navigate significant barriers and pain points to support client understanding and use of labour market information.

Labour market information needs to be simplified so that career development professionals can better support clients' career journeys.

Organizations producing and disseminating LMI must ensure it’s simple, usable and easily found.


As an organization striving to make labour market information (LMI) accessible to all Canadians, our team at the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) recognized early on the importance of career development professionals and their role in labour markets across the country. 

The Pan-Canadian Competency Framework for Career Development Professionals details the skills, knowledge and actions that effective career development professionals, career influencers, career educators, and thought leaders demonstrate. These professionals “help individuals manage learning and employment, acquire and enhance skills, seek and create employment, and access community services that support personal and professional growth in an increasingly complex, interdependent and changing world.”

Career development professionals provide diverse services to their clients, including assessing job readiness, guiding career decision-making, suggesting opportunities for skill enhancement, offering advice about job maintenance, and facilitating conversations about career growth.1 The scope of their work is comprehensive. Its nature is as varied as the client profiles that career development professionals engage with daily.

Career development professionals are important brokers of LMI. However, there are knowledge gaps about how to best serve this group in Canada:

Where are career development organizations located?

What range of services do they offer?

How do they use, understand and integrate LMI and data sources into the programs on offer?

As a result, LMIC engaged Goss Gilroy Inc. to carry out a pilot study to answer these questions and gain a deeper understanding of the landscape within which career development professionals operate.

This report shares insights that emerged from this study. By beginning to understand LMI use by career development professionals, LMIC and partners in the LMI landscape can work to address the needs of these employment specialists. As a result, they will be better equipped to serve all people in Canada.

How career development
professionals find and access LMI

A recurring theme has consistently surfaced in previous research efforts by LMIC and in collaboration with partners: there is a demand for simple, accessible and timely LMI. 

Career development professionals need this simple, accessible and timely LMI to guide clients' career journeys. Clients may be searching for work, changing careers, staying in the workforce, or pursuing other endeavours. Regardless, they have LMI needs. 

Our survey of career development professionals revealed that some LMI is difficult to find, that official sources can be especially complex, and that unofficial data are often shared by word of mouth. 

To access LMI, career development professionals turn to several sources. Among survey responses, common sources mentioned were provincial government websites, job posting sites (such as, Charity Village, Jobboom and others), and the federal government’s Job Bank website.

Some LMI are challenging to find.

More than one-half of the career development professionals surveyed mentioned that finding up-to-date information was challenging (Figure 1). Over one-third reported that it was hard to find data related to international qualification recognition, job outlooks, workplace environments, local markets, and skills transferability (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Types of LMI that are difficult to find, according to career development professionals

Yet, according to survey responses, many of those hard-to-find types of information are also in high demand among career development professionals. They report a high need for information related to international qualification recognition, projected future job trends, workplace environments, skill transferability, and other subjects.  

During data collection, it also became evident that there is a distinct demand for information about remote job opportunities and access to the labour market for individuals with disabilities. The broader need to enhance awareness about LMI and the services provided by career development professionals was also clear.

Survey results highlighted that the most commonly sought-after yet hard-to-find type of LMI is up-to-date or timely, information. This underscores the critical need for LMI to remain relevant, current and adaptable in the ever-evolving dynamics of the labour markets within which career development professionals work.

The surveys revealed instances where data are challenging to locate. For example, wages and salaries are among the LMI that career development professionals report as challenging to find. However, these are often shared on job posting sites. In addition, salary ranges are often shared in occupational profiles, such as those published by different organizations or provincial governments. For example, the Government of Alberta’s ALIS tool provides wage information for occupation profiles.

This raises a question about whether the data are available but not accessible or if career development professionals lack awareness about where to find them. There may also be situations where the data doesn’t exist, and LMI producers and organizations can use these insights to better address the gaps.  

Career development professionals turn to unofficial sources, such as word of mouth, when official sources are unavailable, inaccessible or inadequate.

One intriguing finding from the survey is that career development professionals “frequently” (41%) and “sometimes” (47%) rely on personal connections and word-of-mouth recommendations to convey information to their clients (Figure 2).

This highlights how unofficial LMI is trusted by professionals who support diverse decision-making processes and demonstrates that close contacts can influence the information used to assist clients.

Figure 2: Sources of LMI used by career development professionals

Organizations that provide quality and relevant LMI must ensure that the information they share and publish is accessible and easily understood, knowing that it is frequently shared by word of mouth.

How career development
professionals use LMI with their clients

Understanding the practical applications of LMI and the decisions it facilitates is important for any organization dedicated to delivering meaningful labour market information in Canada.  

Out of the surveys, focus groups and journey mapping exercises carried out in this study, LMIC has developed a clearer understanding of when LMI is used, how it is communicated, and what client decisions are made.

The type of LMI clients need is based on their journey and decision point.

Career development professionals work closely with clients at many stages of their career journeys. The LMI they use to support decision-making depends on what stage of the journey their client is at and what decision point they need information to support 

Through focus groups and journey mapping exercises, we learned that—at the beginning of the client journey—LMI used by career development professionals with their clients typically focuses on job readiness and (in some cases) occupational outlooks. Later in the journey, LMI needs tend to be focused on job searching and training.

Survey results revealed a spectrum of scenarios where LMI is helpful for career development professionals and their clients:

  • searching job postings
  • searching for information about the hidden job market
  • exploring careers
  • exploring available training and education options
  • exploring program eligibility
  • assessing job security in a particular profession before applying to a related program
  • identifying and applying for programs for training
  • developing employment action plans
  • examining labour market trends and outlooks
  • deciding how to work around barriers within the labour market
  • identifying the jobs that are likely to lead to sustainable employment
  • identifying geographical regions that are well-matched to desired jobs (or jobs that match client abilities)
    • reviewing informal LMI to decide who would be successful in different programs based on past employee/client patterns
    • examining an overview of the labour market
    • identifying wages and hours of work
    • identifying a client’s transferable skills and the occupations where they could be used
    • researching options for a more personally satisfying career that matches an existing skill set
    • exploring self-directed online learning
    • finding post-secondary education options
    • reviewing eligibility criteria (e.g., for the Ontario Disability Support Program)
    • reading job descriptions to assess personal suitability for a role
    • exploring volunteer opportunities
    • discussing the demand for different jobs

      Journey mapping: LMI and the decision-making process.

      Journey mapping exercises provided valuable visual representations of the perspectives of career development professionals and their clients. The activities tracked their work together through different decision-making processes.

      Figure 3: Journey map example from a career development professional serving a single parent on an open work permit in Toronto

      Client was not referred. Client phones to inquire whether they are eligible for assistance.

      Client's needs are assessed in relation to their goal to work as a fitness coach.

      A detailed email is sent following each meeting summarizing what was talked about and sharing links to LMI and other useful information discussed.

      Intake paperwork is complete at second meeting.

      The CDP and client continue to have regular touch base meetings every two weeks.

      The CDP encourages the client to try informational interviews.

      Over time, the client develops great confidence doing informational interviews.

      Client succeeds in receiving a job offer.

      Decision point: Whether or not to accept the job.

      The client perceives the wage offered as too low. The hours also do not meet their childcare needs.

      LMI is used to look up wage information and explore other related career options.

      Decision point: Using LMI to determine next steps.

      Next steps: Exploration of different possible paths to achieve goals.

      LMI sources used to support the client include:

      • Career Cruising, Glassdoor, Indeed and ZipRecruiter
      • Job Bank and Service Ontario job profiles for information on job outlooks and wage information
      • Ontario Labour Market Report and National Occupational Classification (NOC) code website to explore other possible work related to fitness/wellness coaching

      In this journey map example, the career development professional guided a single parent on an open work permit through the job exploration process.  

      The process included determining what LMI is needed and when, and working with the client through the associated course of action. The power of LMI in supporting career development professionals, their clients and the professional-client relationship is clear.  

      While not representative of the population and too small of a sample size to develop typologies of career development professional services and client profiles, these exercises provide initial insights into the nature of a career development professional’s interactions. They also offer lessons about when LMI is used, what it’s used for, and to which decisions it applies.  

      LMI related to curriculum vitae development, interview preparation, networking, and overall job readiness is primarily shared at the early stages of a client’s journey. For some clients (those wanting to explore careers), information about labour market trends and outlooks was investigated early on. Typically, as the journey progresses, LMI related to job searching and career exploration becomes increasingly relevant. 

      Employability dimensions also come into play on a client’s journey. When we consider that, we see that career development professionals assist clients with the pre-employment process and address issues like financial struggles, mental health and social challenges. Career development professionals and their clients need information regarding the kinds of support services available to them when navigating these conversations.  

      The mapping exercise revealed further LMI needs and gaps that career development professionals and clients face along their shared journey. These include pain points such as the following:

      • a lack of information that is career- or education-specific in some fields and for some professions
      • conflicting information among LMI sites
      • a lack of public awareness of LMI
      • a lack of LMI available about entrepreneurship
      • difficulty finding specific information about employment in northern communities
      • a lack of local LMI
      • a need for clarity on the education, training and specific certifications that employers are looking for
        • a need for information about any given employer’s openness to hiring people from equity-seeking groups (including people who have a disability, identify as LGBTQ2S+, and others)
        • outdated job outlooks
        • job postings with inadequate details (e.g., missing information about wages, hours of work, physical work requirements, etc.)
        • a lack of awareness about employment assistance services

        Barriers to using LMI in career development professional-client interactions.

        Our journey mapping exercises identified potential barriers facing clients and any members of the public seeking to access LMI. These barriers should be further studied and assessed with user groups to understand how LMI can be reformatted or shared in a manner that is more accessible and clear. Where data gaps exist, thorough studies and initiatives should be launched to remedy these pain points.

        Some of these LMI-related barriers include the following:

        • Internet access (even in Toronto) 
        • not knowing the eligibility terms of programs and services that have been expressly set up for people on work permits 
        • language barriers (often applies to newcomers to Canada)
          • a lack of (or low) digital literacy (applies to some newcomers to Canada) 
          • employer expectations of Canada-based experience (a particular challenge for newcomers to Canada) 
          • a lack of inter-provincial credential recognition 
          • a lack of international qualification recognition

            LMI needs to be simplified so career development professionals can better support clients on their career journeys.

            As mentioned, a recurring theme during data collection was the need to simplify LMI data and terminology.  

            When surveyed about their client’s understanding of LMI, most career development professionals selected the option “some understand well, others don’t.” However, a significant portion of responses still indicated that many clients need explanations (Figure 4). 

            It’s important to think about how LMI products are presented, how the data points are shared and explained, and if these modalities are simple enough to support all the people in Canada who are making career and education decisions.

            Figure 4: Clients’ understanding of LMI, according to career development professionals

            Numerous participants in this research process shared how salary ranges can be deceptive or insufficiently informative. As an illustration, the salary range associated with a particular National Occupation Classification might be indicated as $30,000 to $65,000. However, users may find this information perplexing because it needs more specific details regarding educational qualifications, years of experience, and other factors significantly influencing where an individual might fall within this range.

            The Way Forward

            After exploring career development professionals’ role in the labour market, we’ve gained preliminary insight into their use of LMI to support the career- and education-related decisions of all people in Canada.

            Important findings from this study include:

            Some LMI are challenging to find.

            The type of LMI clients need is based on their journey and decision points.

            Career development professionals must navigate significant barriers and pain points to support client understanding and use of LMI.

            LMI must be simplified so that career development professionals can better support clients on their career journeys.

            Recommendation: Organizations that produce and disseminate LMI must ensure it’s simple, usable and easily found.

            Organizations that provide LMI must consider the needs and preferences of career development professionals and their clients. As important brokers of labour market information, career development professionals must be at the forefront of the conversation, providing insight into who uses LMI sources, tools and services.  

            The challenges identified here mean Canadians are not being supported with the information they need to make significant career and life decisions.  

            This is a significant and persistent challenge in Canada. We know that only one in five adults aged 25–64 have received career services in the past five years—a much lower rate than those of other OECD countries. Equipping career development professionals with the tools and skills to navigate LMI will bring about a critical increase in their capacity to serve all people in Canada.  

            These challenges dovetail with others identified in the broader LMI ecosystem in Canada, including a widespread lack of local and granular data; access, reliability and relevance issues; and a lack of attention to end-users' needs. 

            As in our previous report on the challenges and opportunities in Canada’s LMI landscape, we call on the LMI ecosystem to collaborate to close these gaps; to prioritize innovation; and to develop, endorse, adopt and advocate for best practices and principles in LMI.


            Recognizing the vastness of the career development professional landscape, we selected four jurisdictions where LMIC had strong collaboration experience and connections. These were Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The GTA was selected in place of a fourth province due to the notably concentrated presence of career development organizations and services within this economic area. 

            The data collection phase involved interviews, focus groups, and an online pan-Canadian survey. This sampling approach was used to conduct the pilot study and evaluate the potential for scaling such a project up to a national level. This approach explored the steps needed to access career professional networks, engage career development professionals in various data collection activities, and strive for the most representative sample possible, all while recognizing the inherent limitations in engaging with this field.  

            For example, an effort was made to recruit career development professionals who identify as or work with Indigenous or Francophone communities, but it was not easy or successful. A finding from this initiative was that the array of organizations that employ career development professionals and the various job titles associated with these roles make it challenging to identify and contact those in this field. 

            The research team reviewed the data on existing career development systems in different jurisdictions. With the help of LMIC staff and stakeholders, the team developed a recruitment strategy to engage the most suitable individuals for the data collection activities. Thirty-two key informant interviews were held, with 8 in each jurisdiction. These interviews were with career development experts and policy experts. Small group discussions were conducted with 11 groups (40 total participants). This allowed practising career development professionals to offer further contextual insights into numerous research questions concerning service provision and their requirements and use of LMI data and products.  

            In addition, journey mapping exercises were completed with 12 career development professionals and five clients. These exercises were designed to document the career development process (described by either the professional or the client, depending on the case) from beginning to end. More precisely, the goal was to identify the points at which LMI was used to determine options and make decisions, to track the outcome of that use, and, where possible, to document how LMI helped clients reach the end of their current career journey. This exercise's overall objectives were to better understand the career development process and have clear evidence of when LMI is needed and what LMI is shared with clients.  

            Lastly, the research team developed and hosted a pan-Canadian online survey for career development professionals. The survey intended to understand career development professionals’ LMI use; determine their tool preferences; and address several ecosystem questions around collaboration, awareness of other services, eligibility requirements, and diversity and inclusion concerns.  

            This helped LMIC to build an initial understanding of how career development professionals interact with, integrate and communicate LMI throughout their work with clients. With these findings, we hope to create the momentum to continue researching the suitable types of tools and formats needed to bring LMI to the right audiences and make the delivery impactful. There are opportunities to reflect on ways to rally provincial governments, federal departments, or different private and public organizations to create LMI in the new ways that Canada’s labour force and its career development professionals need.


            The sample size for the described research activities was relatively limited. However, the study’s purpose was only to obtain preliminary insights into LMIC's research questions, with the understanding that these insights might not apply to the broader population. Instead, the results were intended to lay the foundation for subsequent research. 

            Limited response diversity was another challenge of the pilot study. Despite concerted efforts by the research team and stakeholders to engage various career development professionals and others working in the same domain, accessing individuals from diverse backgrounds proved challenging. This was particularly true for both Francophone and Indigenous individuals. Furthermore, the responses to the online survey may predominantly represent career development professionals involved in online platforms and initiatives, potentially offering only a partial depiction of the typical career development professional’s profile. 

            The chosen jurisdictions were another limitation of this study. Given our relatively limited experience in this field, we collaborated with stakeholders extensively involved in Canada’s career development landscape. With their invaluable support and networks, we found jurisdictions where the required effort to map a new field and establish new contacts would be more manageable. The selections were made considering budgetary constraints and concerns about access and outreach.  

            Due to the recruitment strategy utilized for a portion of the research, self-selection bias may further limit this pilot study. We understand that those willing to engage in survey and data collection activities may represent one type of career development professional and may not reflect the broader population of their peers. This research was not meant to be comprehensive and representative. Instead, it was meant to gauge the feasibility of scanning this industry regionally—potentially nationally—and to begin gathering insights into a group that plays an important role in the work we seek to accomplish at LMIC.


            This report was prepared by Lorena Camargo of LMIC based on research completed by Goss Gilroy Inc. under the guidance of LMIC. We thank Suzanne Spiteri for her feedback, guidance and insight. For more information about this report, including to request access to the survey instruments, please contact the principal researcher, Lorena Camargo, at

            How to cite this report

            Camargo, L. (2024). Navigating labour market information: Challenges faced by career development professionals. Labour Market Information Council (LMIC): Ottawa.


            1 The Six Stages of Career Development: Employability Dimensions include job readiness; career decision-making; skills enhancement; work search; job maintenance; and career growth. Source: 

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