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Canada’s House of Commons Offers Defeated MPs up to $15K for Career Help
November 5, 2019
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As a UK General Election date has been announced no doubt some MP’s will lose their seat – and as a result will be looking for a new career. The following explains what support is available to their Canadian colleagues.

When Liberal Mark Holland lost his seat in 2011, he couldn’t get out of bed for days.

“It was absolutely devastating for me … Because it was my hometown, it felt personal. It felt like a personal rejection,” said the Ajax MP, who went on to be re-elected in 2015 and again on Monday.

“It’s like being in a car going 100 kilometres an hour and hitting a brick wall and everything stops.”

He credits the House of Commons’s transition program with helping him move on from his defeat. The program offers counselling and up to $15,000 to help defeated MPs transition from the House of Commons back to the civilian world.

It’s a program the nearly 50 incumbents who lost on Monday can access as they take stock of their defeats.

The taxpayer-funded package can be used to cover the cost of career transition services, job training or post-secondary education and some travel expenses, according to the members’ allowances and services manual.

Holland was first elected at the municipal level at age 23. He said he leaned on the transition program to dust off his resumé and get some retraining before eventually landing a job at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

“Having a service that helps folks make the transition back to a normal life — helps them get their resumé in shape, makes sure that their mental health is in a strong position and that they have the support they need to get reintegrated — is incredibly important,” he said.

For former MPs seeking career advice, the House of Commons offers the services of a third-party firm that provides one-on-one career coaching. MPs can use another career counselling firm as long as it’s cleared in advance.

In order to qualify for the transition fund, career transition programs have be started within 12 months of the general election. The fund also requires that ex-MPs submit certificates for career transition programs.

Liberal MP Mark Holland rises in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Friday, June 3, 2016. Holland says he was devastated when he lost in 2011. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Defeated incumbents can also use the program’s cash to go back to school in Canada.

The MP handbook stipulates that, in order to qualify for transition program funding, ex-MPs must prove the training or education they’re seeking is in a field related to the work they intend to pursue. The institution also must be required by contract to provide on-the-job instruction, tutoring, training or supervision.

The manual lists teaching, law, accounting, engineering and the trades as examples of skills that could be subsidized.

As with the career transition programs, training programs have to start within 12 months of the end of the general election to qualify for funding, and proof of completion is required.

The money also can be used for travel. Members who are not re-elected are entitled to up to four economy-class round trips within Canada if they can prove they’re travelling to and from job interviews, education sessions or career transition sessions, or if they need to travel to Ottawa to sell their homes.

Transition program funds can also be used to pay for sundry services such as long-distance phone calls within Canada, stationery and office supplies, but the program requires receipts.

MPs often leave private-sector gigs

Holland says sceptics who baulk at the program’s price tag need to understand the sacrifice most MPs make by leaving promising careers to run for office.

“I think that nobody understands the pressures of somebody who steps forward and offers themselves to public service,” he said.

“Regardless of the partisan stripe, I have enormous regard for people who put themselves in that position and I think that it makes only good sense to make sure that they transition back to public life.”

MPs who do not seek re-election are also entitled to up to $15,000 in transition support to help re-establish themselves after leaving politics.

The money comes out of the House of Commons administration central budget.

Report: The Hardest Jobs to Fill Across Canada in 2019
October 31, 2019
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It’s a job seeker’s market in Canada and employers are still struggling to fill roles with many positions remaining open for more than 60 days.

To get more perspective, Indeed economist Brendon Bernard shares his thoughts on the regional labour market and hard-to-fill roles.  

Specialized engineering roles in very different sectors, such as software engineering manager (#1) and senior geotechnical engineer (#2), an expert in soil, in addition to real estate associate (#3), are the three most difficult-to-fill roles, with 57% of jobs remaining vacant for 60 days or more. Rounding the top five in western Canada, we find technical program manager (#4), which also requires coding knowledge, and psychiatrist (#5) both represented 55% of hard-to-fill jobs. The latter is not that surprising as mental healthcare access and psychiatrist shortage, especially in British Columbia, have been debated in the media recently. 

According to Bernard, tech roles stand-out as taking long to fill. “Employment in the sector is growing quickly, but the strong competition for talent between employers makes filling individual roles difficult. The resource extraction sector in Western Canada might be facing tough times, but it is still difficult to find geotechnical engineers, suggesting opportunities remain, but they often require highly specialized skills.”

Bernard also explains that Western Canada highlights how labour market conditions are varying across provinces. British Columbia has made significant progress in recent years, while conditions in Alberta remain weaker than they were prior to the fall in oil prices.

Highly-specialized engineers are also difficult to find in Ontario 

Senior test engineer (#1), a tech profession that evaluates products, proves to be the most difficult to find talent for, with 58% of jobs remaining vacant more than 60 days.The most populous province in Canada also finds it difficult to find senior mining engineers, with senior geotechnical engineer coming in second on the list with 55% of available roles long remaining vacant. However, solutions engineer, which is more of a leadership role interacting with technical support and sales, comes in third with 45%.

Speciality in the health sector can also be a headache, with infusion registered nurse, who specializes in the administration of medications and fluids, coming in at number four (45%). Last year, that profession was in the top 10 nationwide of hard-to-fill health care roles. Civil designer, who deals with municipal infrastructure, completes the top five with the same percentage.

Bernard explains that the Ontario job market is showing both strengths and weaknesses. On one side, there’s been strong growth in certain higher-paying fields, tech being a notable standout. In contrast, conditions aren’t great for those without postsecondary education. 

Quebec has one of the lowest unemployment rates, so talent is scarce

In September, Quebec was tied with B.C. for Canada’s lowest unemployment rate, which is going to make it more challenging to fill lots of different types of job openings, as Bernard explains. Statistics Canada found that Quebec had the highest share of job openings remaining vacant for over 60 days in the second quarter of 2019, suggesting hiring difficulties for many roles because more of the workforce is already employed.

Because of increased demand and competition, tech is also well represented in this regional list, with software developer (#1) seeing 50% of opportunities remaining vacant for at least two months and programmer (#4) having 47% of its jobs unfilled for at least 60 days. Engineering is also a pain point in the French-speaking province with electrical (47%) and structural engineer (46%) in third and fifth respectively. One job that stands out from other regions is optician, a provider of eyeglasses and contact lenses, which is actually the second most hard-to-fill job in the province (49%), but that may become a national challenge, since the Government of Canada expects labour shortage for opticians in the country over the next decade. 

Atlantic Canada deals with high unemployment but still has trouble finding the right fit 

According to Bernard, unemployment rates in Atlantic Canada are higher than the national average. Still, it can be tough to find workers to fill a number of niche roles requiring specific and rarer skills. 

Tech talent often being attracted to major tech hubs in big cities, it makes it difficult to fill some roles in smaller areas. As such, senior java developer (50%) and senior software engineer (41%) open and close-out the top five in that region, at number one and number five. Psychologists (#2) are in high demand in that region, with 48% of roles long remaining vacant. Still in the health sector, pharmacy technician appears on the list at number four (41%) while equipment operator arrives just above (#3), with the same percentage. 

We can see that specialities are required in varied sectors across the country. This impacts different industries and company sizes who struggle to fill roles with special skills when it’s a job seeker’s market. Smaller businesses also have to contend with the competition from larger companies.

When your pool of qualified candidates is small, whether it be because of the particular skills needed or because of the high competition, you have to be able to be seen by the right candidate at the right time and to use the tools accessible to you. A few tips are: 

  • Think like a marketer and utilize your social media platforms as well as targeted advertising.
  • Become more proactive, and search resumes and contact talent yourself. 
  • Work on your employer branding and share what makes you unique and what you have to offer to those specialized professionals who, after all, have a lot of choices.

Methodology

Data represents roles open for longer than 60 days in Canada during the first half of 2019 in Western Canada, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. While job postings can be open for longer than 60 days for many reasons, Indeed uses this measure as a proxy for difficulty in hiring. Due to data restrictions, we are unable to meaningfully analyze Northern Canada.

Why Mid-Life Could be the Best Time to Change Careers in Canada
June 12, 2019
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Record low unemployment, innovation, longer careers just some reasons middle-aged workers can find new paths. An article by Brandie Weikle is a senior writer for CBC News based in Toronto. 

While there isn’t widespread data available on career change and the ages at which it occurs, Statistics Canada does track the number of consecutive months Canadians have worked for their current employer.

Some of that data, analyzed by the Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) in Ottawa and provided to CBC News, shows that among workers 45 and older, average time on the job started to drop in 2017.

Though those numbers don’t differentiate between job changes and career shifts, the shorter tenures may indicate more career change — or at least the labour market conditions that help support it. Read more

Growing Number of Canadian Professionals Face Job Insecurity, Study Finds
August 23, 2018
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A higher education and professional career can be the gateway to many privileges — but amidst Canada’s shifting economic tides, job security isn’t always one of them, according to a new study.

survey of 1,000 professionals across the country found that one in five are in precarious jobs, working contract-to-contract, part-time, or freelance. More than half of those in insecure employment said their income varied significantly, and 60 per cent said they don’t have pension plans or sick pay.

Conversely, 85 per cent of professionals with secure jobs had pensions and 94 per cent said they got paid if they were ill.

Regardless of job status, the study conducted by progressive think tank the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found a “widespread sense of economic insecurity,” with 58 per cent of all professionals surveyed reporting their job used to be more stable.

“A number of the hallmarks of precarious jobs in low-wage jobs like a pension plan, like a sick day, like a predictable income, a predictable schedule — all of those things were found in a good percentage of professional jobs,” said the report’s co-author Ricardo Tranjan.

“The key point is that when we talk about precarious jobs in Canada we tend to think about it as something to happen to low-wage jobs, but that is not the case.”

A study, completed in 2017 by two independent experts appointed by the Ontario government, found that almost half of low-income earners in the province are in precarious jobs. Research for the Law Commission of Ontario, based on 2008 data, found that workers with less than a high school diploma as well as recent immigrants, women and people of colour, are overrepresented amongst vulnerable workers.

Read more

Canada – School to Work Transitions Research Report
August 29, 2016
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In Canada, the youth unemployment rate doubles the adult rate. The rate of underemployment has grown in the last 20 years and currently 30% of youth with jobs in Canada are underemployed.

In the fall of 2015, The Canadian Career Development Foundation (CCDF) http://www.ccdf.ca/ccdf/ undertook a scoping review to examine how to support better school-to-work transitions for youth – those who had left school prior to graduation, who went directly to the labour market after high school graduation and those who had graduated.

The main objectives of the project were to identify what is needed to improve school-to-work transitions of Canadian youth and identify research/programming/policy gaps for future project considerations. The review identified that:

  • Promising policies, programs and tools exist, but are generally not effectively implemented, resourced, or utilized;
  • Current funding models either prescribe the integration of these programs/curricula with no new funding to support implementation or have difficult application processes that put community-based providers at financial risk and/or at-risk of programming lapses or closures;
  • Implementation is too often limited to a minority of students; and,
  • There are programming, tools, practices and policies available but implementation, execution and awareness factors get in the way of providing the support needed.

To read the full research report, including outcomes and recommendations Click Here