Hot Jobs: The Growing Divide in the Labour Market

Dressing for success in today’s job market is as much about steel-toed boots and hard hats as it is about tailored suits.

By Virginia Galt, The Globe and Mail

“Not all skill labels [in demand by employers] are PhDs. We are talking about crane operators, heavy machinery operators, truck drivers. In Alberta, people in the oil sands,” said Benjamin Tal, deputy chief economist at CIBC World Markets and author of a recent report on the haves and have-nots of the Canadian labour market.

In response to shortages deemed so severe that Canada’s economic growth is being hampered, the federal government recently announced the creation of a new immigration program to fast-track the entry of foreign skilled tradespeople whose talents are in demand, including electricians, welders, heavy duty equipment mechanics, and pipefitters. On Wednesday, Ottawa said that starting in May, it will use new judging criteria to award more points to younger immigrants and change how work experience and education is assessed.

The moves reflect the fact that skilled trades have been on the top five list of specializations in demand for the past decade – along with engineering, specialized information technology, management, accounting and finance, the Conference Board of Canada reported in a report on the human resources outlook for 2013.

Yet the trades are an often-overlooked occupational choice for Canadians planning for the future, in part because there are not enough apprenticeship opportunities.

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