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Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Research & Trends

Why aren’t adults in Canada accessing career services?

A friend of mine recently mentioned they were considering going back to school for a second degree to help them advance their career.

As someone who understands the positive impact that career development professionals can have in the decision-making process, I asked my friend if they had accessed any career services prior to making this decision. It turns out they had not and, in fact, they were unaware that such services even existed.

I wish I could say this surprised me, but in a recent report by the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) and the Future Skills Centre (FSC), we discovered that most adults in Canada aren’t aware of career services or how these services can assist them in making informed career and education decisions.

With large numbers of Canadians rethinking their careers, the report raises important questions as to why Canadians affected by changes in our job market are not accessing career services.

Only one in five adults in Canada use career services

We surveyed adults aged 25-64 years old and youth aged 18-24 years old in Canada and asked if they had accessed career services within the past five years. Only one in 5 adults (19%) reported they had, compared to 50% of youth.

Relative to other countries, this is low. For example, a 2020 OECD study shows that 43% of adults across a selection of countries reported using career services – nearly double the rate of career service use in Canada.

Adults who use career services find it helpful

Nearly everyone (95%) who accessed career services felt it had a positive impact. Over a third of adults benefited from receiving accurate information (36%) and improved their ability to find work (34%).

More than one in four reported positive changes in understanding the skills required to pursue career goals or reach their preferred career path (28%). In addition, 23% reported finding a job or launching a business after accessing career services.

Information gaps persist, even with career services

Although there was an overall positive impact from accessing career services, in some instances certain types of sought-after information were not available. A large share of those who accessed career services did not receive at least one type of information requested (70%).

“Nearly everyone (95%) who accessed career services felt it had a positive impact.”

Additionally, our survey found that information on financial support (16%), future job opportunities (15%), job vacancies/opportunities (14%), salaries/wages (13%) and quality of training providers (13%) was requested but not received.

Use of career services varies based on gender and education

Men (23%) and people with post-secondary education (29%) are more likely to use career services than women (18%) or people with less education (17%). This suggests that people who need career services the most are not accessing them.

Roughly half (49%) of adults who had not accessed career services in the past five years said they did not feel the need.

Twenty percent were not aware these services existed – suggesting that the remaining 31% are unaware of the existence of career services.

How we’re supporting career professionals as we move into 2022

The results of the study are clear: accessing career services has a positive impact on career outcomes, but adults in Canada are largely unaware or face barriers when accessing these services.

For our part, LMIC is working with a number of partners including FSC to increase awareness of career services while also ensuring career professionals have access to timely and high-quality labour market information.

LMIC’s Canadian Online Jobs Posting Dashboard is one of the tools career professionals can use to learn about emerging work requirements and skill gaps in the Canadian labour force. A 2022 update to our dashboard will make the data even more accessible for career professionals.

LMIC is also developing a micro-credential learning series in partnership with the Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF) to support professionals in learning more about how to leverage labour market information to support their clients’ needs.

LMIC will continue to work closely with organizations supporting career professionals, including CERIC and CCDF, to identify information gaps. Through these collaborations we can work toward providing Canadians with the types of labour market information they need.

As an Economist with LMIC, Bolanle Alake-Apata contributes to the planning, designing and execution of research projects in several complex areas related labour market issues. She brings experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research from her previous research and analytic roles with Startup Canada and McMaster University. Alake-Apata is an executive of the Ottawa Economics Association and actively participates in promoting its events and managing its social media presence.
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As an Economist with LMIC, Bolanle Alake-Apata contributes to the planning, designing and execution of research projects in several complex areas related labour market issues. She brings experience conducting quantitative and qualitative research from her previous research and analytic roles with Startup Canada and McMaster University. Alake-Apata is an executive of the Ottawa Economics Association and actively participates in promoting its events and managing its social media presence.
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