By Moira MacDonald
Special to the Toronto Sun
The headlines are true -- Ontario is living in a knowledge economy where those with professional and technical know-how have the brightest prospects.
From health-care specialists to mechanical engineers to accountants and millwrights, jobs using technical, professional and managerial skills are still the most promising places to go for those looking for full-time work with long-term sustainability.
Labour market survey
The latest labour market survey by Statistics Canada showed the biggest gains in jobs over the last year in Ontario have been made in natural resources, manufacturing, construction, transportation and warehousing -- one of the biggest gainers -- the financial/real-estate/insurance and leasing sector as the housing market continues to boom, and in professional, technical and scientific services.
But job seekers should analyse long-term as well as short-term trends as clues to figuring out where the jobs are.
"When it comes to measuring how well an occupational group may fare in the economy, it's really driven by the economy itself and the types of industries driving the economy," says Jonathan Dutton, chief of labour market information and research for Human Resources Skills Development Canada.
Dutton is updating Ontario Job Futures, a joint venture between the Ontario and federal governments aimed at pointing out career prospects for Ontario's workforce. The updated version is expected to be ready for next March although it's not expected that current forecasts will change very much.
The guide analyses some 157 different occupations and rates them as to whether their employment prospects are expected to be limited, average or good in the next five years.
Among those with the best long-term prospects are managers in health care, sales and marketing, retail trade and manufacturing; financial auditors and accountants; customer service agents; truck drivers; auto mechanics; chemists and chemical technicians; tool and die makers; chefs; hairstylists; machinists and machining and tooling inspectors.
Jobs with the poorest prospects include agricultural work, secretarial (excluding medical), bank tellers, librarians and office clerking.
While forecasters may predict "average" prospects for other types of jobs, job seekers should not forget that many of those job employers will have to start recruiting to replace the aging workforce they have now, as the baby boom generation starts to reach retirement age.
How much supply
As well, Dutton cautions workers to look not only at whether a given job will need workers in the future but how much supply of workers there already is.
Despite large layoffs at big companies such as Nortel, "information technology is still going to continue to grow, just not as fast as before," Dutton says. But, he adds, there is still a glut in the supply of those ready to the fill those jobs.
OTHER HOT JOBS|
Electrical and electronics engineers
Computer systems analysts
Industrial engineers and manufacturing technologists and technicians
Electrical and electronics technologists and technicians
Paralegal and related occupations
Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
Technical sales specialists
To find Ontario Job Futures, visit: www1.on.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/ojf/ojf. jsp?lang=e§ion=Welcome&noc
That's because many people started training for those jobs when times were good, while still others are waiting to re-enter the industry after being laid off when times got bad. The construction industry has gone through several boom and bust cycles.
Demand is relatively good for people in the industry, but recent figures show that is starting to slow and it is expected the industry, as a whole, will slow in the next few years.
Still, Dutton says those with solid training and good credentials will be best prepared to weather slowdowns until the next boom hits.
"Demand for tradespeople is always good," he says.
Employment "has really started to take off" in healthcare, he adds, with good demand for physicians, dentists, nurses, licensed practical nurses, pharmacists, medical radiation technologists and medical lab technologists.
And even though getting the training and accreditation to take up any of these skilled jobs will likely be challenging, the Conference Board of Canada cautions job seekers not to neglect or forget to market their "softer" skills, such as effective communication and the ability to work in a team.
"Typically we tend to see companies hire on technical skills and let go [staff] on the [lack of] soft skills," says the CBOC's Michael Bloom.
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