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Labour Trends to Watch in Canada in 2019

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: January 2, 2019

With news reports about General Motors’ Oshawa plant closing (at the end of 2019) and fears around the security of Canada’s dairy sector (given the United States anticipated entry due to the USMCA trade agreement yet to be implemented) it’s no wonder there is a certain amount of uncertainty in regards to what 2019 will bring to the Canadian labour market. Heading into any new year brings questions around employment and economic numbers, but fortunately, Canada had exceptionally strong employment growth in 2017. The numbers stayed relatively stable in the first half of 2018 but the rate of growth declined in the second half, though not enough to cause concern and overall 2018 was positive labour-wise.

While Canada’s employment momentum bobbed up and down in 2018, the growth experienced in 2017 kept the labour market strong and it is expected to stay in a relatively good position, at least through the first half of 2019. The latter half of 2018 had the lowest unemployment rate since 1974 at 5.6% from 6% in August of 2018 which is encouraging heading into 2019.

This national growth and decline paradigm don’t correlate to the provincial/territorial employment growth and decline trends. The majority of provinces saw year-over-year growth in the first half of 2018 with Quebec, Alberta, BC and Prince Edward Island leading the charge in employment growth numbers and little change in the Atlantic provinces (other than PEI) including Newfoundland and Labrador which saw a measurable reduction in employment.

Labour Shortages Mean Jobs to be Filled

While momentum may have had ups and downs in 2018, there are still many jobs in Canada to be filled heading into 2019. Job vacancies hit a record high in 2018 with just under 550,000 job openings in the country (the highest since 2008) in the second quarter of the year. These labour shortages impact Canadian businesses negatively and will have employers looking to all possible solutions, causing them to post jobs in new places (such as a job bank in Canada which may not have been used previously, new job sites in Canada or searching for qualified immigrant workers).

Demand Jobs in Canada

The job market in key sectors such as natural resources and residential construction will likely remain soft with the expectation of continued job declines ahead. Fortunately, there are a number of areas still seeing strong job growth such as those in finance and insurance, human resources, IT, software and computer systems, health care, architecture, engineering, retail, hospitality, management (in various sectors), marketing, science, landscaping, transportation and others noted by employment Canada websites.

While jobs in these sectors will remain strong, they may not necessarily be the most popular. This is an excellent opportunity for those seeking jobs in Vancouver, BC jobs or jobs in Canada because it will allow those interested in the less popular fields to have greater chances at achieving their dream job without competing with hundreds (or potentially thousands) of others.

Less popular, but in-demand jobs are also attractive for potential immigrants hoping to come to Canada as part of a job search related to skilled trades or skilled worker Canada entry programs. There may be job openings that allow for quicker immigration processing through the various Canadian immigrant programs. These accelerated timelines are possible for immigrants with experience in fields which meet the pre-set labour market impact assessment standards noted in the specific programs. This faster immigrant processing ensures employers throughout the country can obtain the skilled workers they need quickly.

The trend of Canadian employers hiring immigrants will also ensure a growing level of diversity in the workplace as has been the norm in large Canadian centres for a number of years.

British Columbia Trends

A number of factors are slowing overall growth in BC, though not to a point of concern. Central 1 released an economic forecast in August 2018 that notes economic growth in the province is expected to be about 2.6% for 2019, 2.8% in 2020 and 2.3% in 2021. While this is a short downward trend, economic growth in BC is expected to increase pace in 2022.

These estimates are based on a number of factors such as a slow in the housing market (due to new mortgage rules and foreign buyer taxes) and decreasing exports. These are joined by slower job growth to create reduced economic activity. Don’t mistake reduction for a stop or a reversal mind you. Central 1 anticipates modest employment growth in the province and a continued labour shortage that will allow many to find a job if they are skilled in the in-demand fields.

BC and Quebec lead the job vacancies in Canada with the most notable gaps in transportation, warehousing, accommodation and food services (in BC) according to Statistics Canada.

Position Yourself for the Future

According to employment assistance site Workopolis, one of the key ways to position yourself for “hireability” is to ensure digital and tech literacy. As more people with exposure to and experience in the digital landscape join the labour market, those who are early in understanding and using technology will be the “go to” resources.

Critical decision making is also a key skill in labour trends. As automation increases, critical thinking is something that can’t be replicated, thus ensuring job security. Of course, with automation comes more technology and those in tech careers such as engineers or technicians will continue to be required to keep the economy and markets moving forward.

A few jobs were identified by Workopolis as “always in demand”. These include teachers, lawyers, engineers, dentists, doctors, law enforcement, accountants, food and beverage preparers and servers and skilled trades. This comes due to the aforementioned need for critical thinking that can’t be replaced, along with face-to-face interaction and the ability to plan and identify areas of opportunity – things automation can’t duplicate. At least not at this point.

For those looking to put their job skills to work, or wondering about potential for employment in Canada, the future is bright – if just slightly dimmer than it may have been previously. There is still plenty of room for those with the right skills that fill the gaps employers need in order to ensure continued business and economic growth.


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  1. Flori Castillo says:

    I am still trying to send my CV in every direct hiring job indeed and workopolis .. but until now no one notices my job application .. I am from philippines and I want to work in canada as a retail cashier or customer associates ..

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