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The job landscape: Where workers are needed, and where they aren’t

Research data consistently point to a coming shortage in workers for professional occupations in science and engineering.



Want to optimize your chances of getting a good job? Get into health care, science or management – and then move West, where unemployment rates are lowest. Research data looking at future job needs consistently point to labour shortages in health- and science-related fields, as well as mining and engineering. Most of the highest-demand job areas require university degrees or intensive training, raising doubts about the emphasis policy makers are placing on more basic trades training. Health-care jobs are expected to remain strong due to an aging population, while managers in industries such as science and health will be in demand because large numbers of people in those job categories are expected to retire in the next decade.

Health care

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  • Physicians, dentists and veterinarians
  • Optometrists, chiropractors and other health diagnosing and treating professionals
  • Pharmacists, dietitians and nutritionists
  • Nurse supervisors and registered nurses
  • Technical and related occupations in health
  • Psychologists, social workers, counsellors, clergy and probation officers


  • Managers in engineering, architecture, science and info systems
  • Managers in health, education, social and community services
  • Managers in construction and transportation


  • Auditors, accountants and investment professionals
  • Human resources and business service professionals


  • Professional occupations in natural, applied, physical and life sciences
  • Civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical and other engineers

Natural resources

  • Supervisors in mining, oil and gas
  • Underground miners, oil and gas drillers and related workers


At the opposite extreme, traditional jobs like butchers and bakers, as well as occupations in manufacturing, fishing and forestry, have far higher unemployment rates. A 10-year job projection in 2011 by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada concluded occupations expected to have a "labour surplus" in 2020 are mainly lower-skilled occupations that do not require a college or university degree. Many are linked to the processing, manufacturing and utilities sectors, where "expansion demand" is not projected to be strong. Others on the 10-year list are sectors where there is an excess supply of workers, or involve jobs such as computer professionals where workers are younger on average and there is not expected to be a high retirement rate by 2020.

  • Managers in manufacturing and utilities
  • Clerical supervisors, workers, general office skills, office equipment operators
  • Finance and insurance clerks
  • Mail and message distribution occupations
  • Secondary and elementary teachers and counsellors
  • Sales and service supervisors
  • Cashiers
  • Occupations in food and beverage services
  • Tour and recreational guides, amusement occupations, attendants in travel, accommodation and recreation
  • Technical and other occupations in personal service
  • Butchers and bakers
  • Upholsterers, tailors, shoe repairers, jewellers and related occupations
  • Fishing vessel masters and skippers and fishermen/women
  • Machine operators and related workers in metal and minerals
  • Products processing, machine operators and related workers in pulp and paper production and wood processing

Source: CIBC World Markets Inc.

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About the Author
Real Estate Reporter

Janet McFarland is the real estate reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, with a focus on residential real estate trends. She joined Report on Business in 1995, and has specialized in reporting on corporate governance, executive compensation, pension policy, business law, securities regulation and enforcement of white-collar crime. More


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