After months of gradual gains, Canada’s labour market is in a funk again.
Statistics show the economy shed 63,000 positions in December, and many analysts expect the trend to continue as governments tighten COVID-19 restrictions amid rising case counts.
But while the new round of lockdowns is once again disproportionately hitting the same service-sector industries that saw the steepest job losses in March and April, a new report by Randstad, one of the world’s largest HR firms, shows the pandemic is also creating new roles in other corners of the economy.
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The positions that are seeing the fastest-growing demand from employers reflect how companies are adapting to the new reality, says Carolyn Levy of Randstad Canada. And many of those trends are likely to survive the pandemic, she adds.
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Here are the big shifts afoot in the Canadian labour market and the top jobs associated with them, according to Randstad’s 2021 jobs forecast:
Shift to online sales — customer service representatives, delivery drivers, IT and support desk specialists, procurement and supply chain specialists, warehouse workers
With companies now forced to attend to customers and clients remotely, many are finding they need to hire more customer service representatives, Levy says. Seniors, in particular, have been more likely to struggle with the shift to online purchases, highlighting the need for support from customer service pros, she adds.
Delivery drivers, unsurprisingly, also feature prominently in Randstad’s list. But while delivery jobs have been in high demand for the past few years in Canada, it’s the need for short-distance deliveries within cities that has driven growth in the pandemic, Levy says.
IT workers have been helping companies create or upgrade their online store, while supply chain specialists have been helping them rejig for an online-only business model, according to Levy. And with more goods now shipped directly from warehouses to customers’ homes, the need for warehouse workers has also increased.
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Shift to work-from-home — administrative assistants, IT specialists, security analysts and architects
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Many businesses were moving away from traditional administrative assistant roles before the pandemic, Levy says. Companies figured they could do without receptionists, for example, and automating processes like checking in customers.
But with the shift to remote work, many firms are finding they need someone in charge of managing logistics, keeping track of schedules, and, say, corralling large numbers of people into a Zoom meeting, Levy says.
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The work-from-home revolution has also put a strain on companies’ IT departments, prompting many to hire some extra help, according to Levy.
“Everybody (is) moving to the cloud … so you’re able to access your data from anywhere,” she says.
But as more sensitive company data migrates online, employers are also beefing up the ranks of cybersecurity specialists that can ensure the information is protected from hackers and other digital threats, Levy says.
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Extraordinary demand on essential retail services — essential retail workers, procurement and supply chain specialists, cleaners and maintenance workers, warehouse workers
For grocery stores and other essential retailers, the challenge has been to keep the shelves stocked in the face of unprecedented demand and unusual shopping patterns, like the toilet paper shortage and baking mania of the first months of the pandemic.
And the need for essential retail workers and supply chain specialists persists in the second wave, Levy says.
Essential businesses are also having to hire extra cleaning staff to make sure they abide by health care directives and warehouse staff to keep goods moving.
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Extraordinary demand on the healthcare system — registered nurses
The demand for registered nurses comes from across the health care sector, whether it’s hospitals, long-term care homes or vaccine clinics, Levy says.
Across the whole system demand is “through the roof,” she says.
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Job seekers may find opportunity in unexpected places
A silver lining of the pandemic economy is that many of the workers displaced by the COVID-19 restrictions may well qualify for the jobs the health crisis is creating, Levy says.
For example, travel booking agents, flight attendants and hotel workers likely have the right skills for customer representative or essential retail jobs, she says.
Job seekers should keep an open mind and look for opportunities that aren’t necessarily in their industry, she says.
“Don’t wait for things to return back to normal,” she says. “We’re going to have a new normal.”
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