What do a registered nurse, a retail sales clerk and a software engineer have in common?
They’re all qualified for jobs that are most likely to go unfilled in Canada.
A new report from job site Indeed Canada identifies areas of labour-market mismatch — positions for which there are either not enough applicants or too many.
Written by Indeed economist Brendon Bernard, the report found that over the course of 2018, roles in health care, technology and retail dominated the list of ten positions with the fewest applicants per job post.
On the other side of the coin, it uncovered a relative surplus of job seekers who’ve worked as food servers, customer service representatives and general labourers.
“The way we calculate mismatch is by comparing the kinds of jobs employers are posting on Indeed with the experience that job seekers have on their resumés,” said Bernard. These findings are then checked against Statistics Canada unemployment data, specifically, the most recent positions held by people who are currently out of work, he said.
“Overall, they … show a similar pattern,” he said, with one key difference: By tracking job seekers — including those who have a job but are looking for another — instead of just the unemployed, Indeed gets a more complete picture of the talent pool.
Topping the list of jobs where demand is highest and qualified workers are most scarce are registered nurse, retail sales associate, hair stylist and store manager.
The Top 10 also included tech jobs such as software engineer and full stack developer, the latter being someone who handles all aspects of developing and running a data-driven website.
“Unsurprisingly, there’s a higher share of postings for software engineers than there are job seekers with recent experience [in the field],” said Bernard.
That said, the gap between software-engineer positions and available workers didn’t widen during nearly five years of data examined for the report.
Although software-engineer positions have increased in proportion to all job opportunities and continue to be hard vacancies for companies to fill, more workers who are qualified are entering the field, said Bernard.
Young people have got the message that [STEM] is where there are good opportunities.– Brendon Bernard, Indeed Canada economist
“I think that fits with what we’ve seen in the tech sector, where if you look at industries like computer-systems design, they’ve been posting really strong growth, year after year since 2014, just adding [staff] at a really rapid clip,” he said.
“That doesn’t happen if there aren’t job seekers out there with the skills to fill those roles.”
That’s in part because more people are entering STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at university, he said.
“Young people have got the message that this is where there are good opportunities.”
Unexpected demand in retail sales
Given the retail sector has been suffering in recent years, Bernard said he was surprised to see retail sales associates and store managers being in such high demand.
“Since it is a high-turnover industry, it could be that employers are looking to fill roles, even though, on a longer-term basis, the industry isn’t going to be adding more jobs in the years ahead, given the advent of e-commerce.”
Although a tighter labour market can mean that people who previously took low-paying retail jobs as a stop-gap measure are able to find work in their chosen fields, Bernard said he’s not sure that explains the results. “The same could be said for cashiers, for which we still find there are relatively high numbers of job seekers compared to job postings, unlike in retail.”
Kathy Himmelman said she wasn’t surprised to hear that nurses topped the list of in-demand positions. She’s director of administration for the Canadian Health Care Agency, which recruits nurses to work in Canada’s North.
Although her organization has the additional challenge of finding candidates with the right skills to handle the scope of work in remote communities, Himmelman said the labour pool isn’t big enough to meet the need for nurses in Canada.
“The population is aging, so those demands go up as well for the nurses, and I don’t think there are enough people entering the field to keep up with the demand in general.”