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Too many bankers? Toronto has a financial services skills surplus, report finds

A new report from LinkedIn Corp. says that Toronto has a surplus of workers with banking, legal and other financial-services-related skills.

Galit Rodan/The Globe and Mail

Does Canada's banking capital have too many bankers?

A new report from LinkedIn Corp. says that Toronto has a surplus of workers with banking, legal and other financial-services-related skills.

The social-networking website is seeking to identify gaps in Toronto's labour market, and said the "most abundant skills" in the city are banking, legal advice, risk management, mortgage financing, trading, investing and accounting.

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Meanwhile, skills that are scarce include health-care management, education, non-profit fundraising, nursing, construction, marketing-event management, green-building construction, criminal law and "Microsoft Windows Systems", or capabilities it said are associated with entry-level professionals.

The report, which is based on information from LinkedIn profiles in Toronto, said the information is designed to help workers "better navigate" their careers.

It comes as policy makers and workers try to figure out which skills are needed in today's labour market.

When tens of thousands of people in the oil patch lost their jobs during the commodities slump, Ottawa provided additional funds to help workers retrain and learn new skills. But many have not been able to find new jobs, much less switch careers successfully.

"We have a situation where we have workers without jobs and jobs without workers. There is real strain," said Craig Alexander, chief economist with the Conference Board of Canada.

The social-networking site said "abundance" is when worker supply of a certain skill exceeds employer demand for that skill. (On the flip side, it said a city with a scarcity of skills needs more workers with certain skills.)

Other skills in abundance in Toronto include: general finance, financial planning, retail-category management and travel.

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"The LinkedIn survey needs some interpretation," said Mr. Alexander, who said it is useful in flagging some areas where there might be job opportunities.

"In terms of abundance, I don't think the message is clear. While there is an abundance of people that work in financial services, that is a reflection of the fact that that's where financial services jobs are in Canada," he said.

LinkedIn economist Guy Berger acknowledged "abundance" directly reflects that Toronto is at the centre of Canada's financial sector. "If you were a firm from elsewhere that is trying to hire a person with these skills, Toronto is a good place to look," he said.

To get the list of skills in surplus and in demand, LinkedIn compared the skills listed on the profiles of members in Toronto who were hired in the previous 12 months with the skills listed on the profiles of all LinkedIn members in Toronto.

The latest report, which looked at how LinkedIn's profiles changed in the 12 months to July, said that Toronto lost the most workers to San Francisco, New York and British Columbia.

Meanwhile, Toronto gained the most workers from Montreal, the United Arab Emirates and London, Ont.

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Don Drummond, an economist who is trying to improve Canada's labour data, said the report is useful, but not entirely new.

"It is an interesting perspective to see what is happening among a largely 'professional group,'" he said.

"For too many years, Canada has paid the price (higher unemployment, difficulty in employers filling jobs) because labour market information has been scarce and of poor quality."

The federal government's jobs data has long been criticized for not providing enough detail. Statistics Canada is in its third year of providing data that tracks job vacancies and wages by province, industry and level of education. However, the so-called Jobs Vacancy and Wages Survey is relatively new, so the data cannot be put into context.

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