Home Month and Year March 2024 Maneuvering Edmonton’s Jobs Crunch

Maneuvering Edmonton’s Jobs Crunch

The job search challenge

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Added to recent business warnings and concerns about a skilled trade shortage, Edmonton businesses, the provincial government and career professionals are dealing with an Edmonton non-trade jobs crunch.

“Today’s labour market presents significant challenges for job seekers in non-trade and non-healthcare jobs,” says the plugged-in Alison Reaves, academic program manager, with the Work-Integrated Learning and Career Education Centre at Edmonton’s NorQuest College. “For those working in trades or healthcare, employers can’t keep up with their hiring demands, and job-seekers have more choice than ever before.

“But for job seekers looking for other types of work, Edmonton’s current job market is disheartening and increasingly difficult to navigate.”

StatsCan labour market numbers crunchers and Edmonton HR professionals agree. Most of 2023 was tough for Edmonton job hunters, and although there are hopes and signs for improvement, so far, 2024 isn’t much better.

According to recent StatsCanada numbers and trending, there is good news and bad news.

Data shows job vacancies declined at the end of 2023, but the drop is a double-edged sword. Jobs being filled is good news, but job creation is failing to keep up with population, and Canada’s job market saw a notable erosion in opportunity as fewer job openings were advertised. In Alberta, there were 89,380 vacant positions (down by four per cent from the year before),

By the end of last year, there were more than 31,475 Edmonton job vacancies, accounting for about a third of the total job vacancies in Alberta.

The StatsCan trending shows that, in the Edmonton region, full-time job losses happened in agriculture, natural resources, construction, the financial sector, business and building services, healthcare, accommodation and food services, and public administration.

“Over the past two to three years, Canada has witnessed a notable surge in job vacancies across various sectors,” explains Chris Ball, executive director of Career Professionals of Canada (CPC), the uniquely Canadian not-for-profit national association for career practitioners. “It is a trend attributed to several factors. One significant driver has been the country’s robust economic growth, spurred by increased consumer spending, business investments, and government stimulus measures.

In Edmonton, and in most Canadian business areas, various labour market factors cause a noticeable uptick in job vacancies. Ball points out that demographic shifts, such as an aging population and retirements create vacancies that need to be filled. Technological advancements also play a part, creating new industries and roles that fuel a growing demand for skilled workers.

“The world of work is changing,” Reaves points out. “Automation, AI, opportunities for remote work, and technological gains continue to change the way people work, which is changing the job market. These changes provide opportunity for job seekers to upskill their competencies with short and accessible education to then return to the market in either the same industry or new and different fields.”

With Edmonton expertise, she adds that “extensive opportunities exist in healthcare roles such as practical nurse, healthcare aid, and pharmacy technician; in the childcare sector for childcare professionals at all levels; and in the social services sector such as justice and child and youth care. Areas that seem to be have fewer opportunities recently include administration, human resources, and entry-level accounting.”

The frustrations of Edmonton job hunters parallel the trends and details about unemployed hopefuls and job opportunities, but there are pros and cons about the Edmonton job search process.

“The pros include a lot of opportunity,” she explains. “Just like job seekers are struggling to find jobs, employers are struggling to find great talent. This disconnect in the market means there are great jobs available for job seekers who are actively looking and who can demonstrate their competencies to employers.

“The cons? There’s no doubt about it. Navigating Edmonton’s job market is tough and it can be disheartening. Today’s job market is particularly tough for newcomers to Canada. Newcomers bring amazingly diverse and robust experiences to the Canadian job market, but employers often disregard work experience gained outside of Canada.”

CPC’s Chris Ball emphasizes the key to an effective job search is a multifaceted approach encompassing traditional and modern strategies. “First and foremost, clarity in defining a person’s career goals and identifying preferred industries. It is crucial. Tailoring résumés and cover letters to highlight relevant skills and experiences for each application significantly improves the chances of success.”

Some things never change. The reasons for being out of work and looking for a job are many—and individual.  Pandemic-related layoffs, a hiring slowdown and a transforming workplace dealing with work-from-remote and downsizing job factors are all job-hunting reality checks and speedbumps.

Although there is some encouraging Edmonton momentum about job opportunities, the technology of digital job searching is efficient but also compounding the discouraging frustration. Ironically, for similar but different reasons, Edmonton job hunters and Edmonton employers are frustrated by quirks of today’s job search process.

For applicants, the search and application process have tremendous reach. The downside? They also blur the chances of being noticed, connecting and getting to second base.

For employers looking for talent and viable potential are often blitzed by a buckshot of mis-focused, mis-targeted and irrelevant email resumes and cover letters.

With years of experience in Edmonton’s career counselling and job market, NorQuest’s Alison Reaves emphasizes the importance of developing job search tools. “The resume, the cover letter, and interview skills. They are the job hunter’s brand. And no doubt about it. It is a numbers game! Today’s job applicant will likely apply for 50-100 jobs to get 3-4 interviews.  It’s tough to stay motivated but—-it’s not personal!

“It’s all about finding a good fit for the applicant and for the employer. The blunt reality is, if someone is applying for 50-100 jobs and not getting a call for an interview, it’s time to take a look at the resume and the cover letter and do an update.”

The experts agree. Technology is invaluable but the slick efficiency of digital job searching comes with a price. “While digital platforms have undoubtedly revolutionized the job search process, offering efficiency and accessibility,” Ball points out, “they also introduce challenges and frustrations for job seekers. The sheer volume of online job postings can overwhelm individuals, making navigating and identifying suitable opportunities difficult.

“On the employer side, automated applicant tracking systems often filter out candidates based on algorithms or a lack of specific keywords in résumés, potentially overlooking qualified applicants and exacerbating feelings of frustration.” She adds that the impersonal nature of digital communication can hinder meaningful connections between job seekers and employers, leading to feelings of isolation in the job search process.”

StatsCan numbers, career search specialists and the Edmonton labour market and job search trending agrees. It’s not easy.

Another unavoidable factor which makes Edmonton job hunting rough ride is the impact of an otherwise Edmonton positive. Migration! For job hunters, the Edmonton-positive translates into an Edmonton job search challenge.

A strong economy, talented workforce and business-friendly policies continue to attract Edmonton job creators and investment from around the world. But more people, means more and more job searchers, and more competition for Edmonton jobs.

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