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Students Need Labour Market Information – Here's What They’re Asking For

Students Need Labour Market Information – Here’s What They’re Asking For

Sixty-two per cent of students say that labour market information (LMI) has helped them make post-secondary education-related decisions. However, there are many students and career practitioners who are still uncertain about how to find and use LMI.

When we first joined LMIC as co-op students, we had each experienced uncertainties around our futures in the job market – particularly because we had limited knowledge of how LMI could impact our academic and career decisions. Since joining LMIC, we have grown to understand the impact that LMI can have on people who are making decisions about their careers and educations.

It’s important for students and the career service practitioners who support them to know where to find LMI resources and tools.

In this article, we discuss three ways LMI can support student education and career decisions, and we highlight perspectives from select interviews with students about what LMI means to them.

Here are three things we know about how LMI can support post-secondary students:

1) Students say that they are most interested in job outlook information over a five-year period

Thirty four out of 35 post-secondary students said that when it comes to job outlook information they prefer to learn about the types of new jobs that will be available in 5 years.

This kind of LMI can help to forecast what types of jobs students should be preparing for early on in undergraduate programs.

"We have been really lucky in terms of flexible hours and my school providing great counsellors, but not every student gets that. There is already this overwhelming pressure to figure out our futures but not a lot of places to turn to.”

– Nich Caissie, University of British Columbia; AJ Boettcher, University of Ottawa

LMIC resources that can support students and career professionals who are curious about career prospects include:

Resource  Description  How it can help 
Canadian Online Job Trends Dashboard   An interactive tool that allows users to explore online job postings by occupation, geography, time period and work requirements.  Students and career professionals can use this tool to learn about new trends and work requirements. 
WorkWords  An online encyclopedia for labour market terms and other information.  This resource can help students and career professionals to better understand LMI concepts and data. 
Future of Work  An annotated bibliography that synthesizes the latest research findings about the future of work.  This index can help students understand how the world of work is changing and to monitor future trends in the labour market. 

2) Students are looking for earnings information by field of study

Researching possible careers can be challenging. Students have indicated that learning about earning potential, wages and salaries in specific fields of study is extremely important as they plan their education journeys and career pathways.

“The stress I feel when it comes to school, work and my future is insane. I find that when I’m looking for help with these issues, I don’t know where to go or counsellors don’t have the kinds of information I’m looking for.”

– AJ Boettcher, University of Ottawa

LMIC resources that can help students and career professionals learn about earnings, wages and salaries include:

Resource  Description  How it can help 
The Post-Secondary Graduate Earnings Dashboard  Provides detailed research on the earnings of university and college graduates by credential and field of study.  This dashboard can help both students and career guidance professionals understand what earnings to expect post-graduation. 
Work Words: Wages and Salaries  Provides an overview of what data and LMI practices exist for predicting and assessing trends in pay and compensation.  This resource can help students and career professionals to better understand LMI concepts and data. 

3) Students need to know what skills are required for the future of work

Students face constant uncertainty about which skills will be relevant in the future. To solve this issue, students say that they need information about which skills will evolve or become obsolete.

“The pandemic has forced me to rethink the way I look at skills. With everything moving online, I’ve had to prepare myself with the right skills to succeed in a digital future of work.”

– Elizabeth Lacuata, Wilfrid Laurier University

LMIC resources that can help students and career professionals learn about some of the skills that are needed in the future include:

Resource  Description  How it can help 
Understanding Skills  An initiative that shares research and data about skills to anyone navigating the changing world of work.  The research and tools developed as a part of this initiative can help career guidance professionals understand LMI related to skills.  
LMIC Insights Report no. 26, “In Conversation With Students: What About Skills?”  Summarizes a series of in-depth discussions with young Canadians about what skills information they most need.  This report can help career guidance professionals further understand the type of LMI students need. 

The way forward

Students continue to face uncertainty when it comes to the job market and accessing accurate LMI.

“As a student, it’s hard to get experience in my field because I’m not qualified enough or don’t know what an employer is looking for… if I knew more about LMI in general, I feel like that could really help me prepare for my future jobs.”

– Isel Williams, Fanshawe College

Many Canadians who seek assistance with career-related decisions already have some idea of what information they need, but have difficulty finding or understanding the data. Further, almost two-thirds (62%) of current college and university students reportedly looked for labour market information before enrolling in their post-graduate degrees.

As students ourselves, if we had previously known about these LMI resources many of the difficult educational and career-related decisions we have made would have been less stressful. We are both pleased to have had a co-op experience at LMIC during which we were able to learn about LMI and the deep body of knowledge and data available to support both students and career service practitioners. Our hope is that career service practitioners will take advantage of the tools and resources offered by LMIC so that students like us can access important data and information.

Career guidance professionals need to be equipped with reliable LMI tools and resources to support students in their education journeys and career decision-making, but only three of five career practitioners report that labour market information is easy to understand, and fewer than half say they have received training to help them access or make sense of the data.

For more information, check out LMIC’s monthly newsletter for updates about emerging LMI research, trends, and data related to the Canadian labour market. Subscribe here.

Hannah Rosenberg

Hannah Rosenberg is a Junior Communications Officer at LMIC. She is currently a student at the University of Ottawa where she is completing a joint honours degree in communications and political science.

Bryan Oates

Bryan Anthony Oates is a Junior Communications Officer at LMIC. He is currently a student at the University of Ottawa where he is completing his studies in communications and sociology.

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