I hear from employers in virtually every industry about their challenges finding workers. I also hear from Albertans looking to start or change careers. So if employers are looking for workers and job-seekers are looking for jobs, why are we still hearing about labour shortages? It’s a question my team in the new ministry of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour (JSTL) and I are taking a hard look at. Why do we have jobs without people and people without jobs at the same time? One of the main reasons: skills gaps.

Filling in the gaps

Skills gaps are the differences between the qualifications needed to do a job and the education and experience job-seekers actually have. These can be soft skills such as teamwork and punctuality or hard skills like knowing how to operate heavy machinery. There are a few different types of skills gaps:

  •  A qualitative mismatch, when a worker’s qualifications aren’t the same as those required to fill job vacancies.
  • A regional mismatch, when job-seekers and available jobs are located in different regions, and the jobs and/or the workers aren’t mobile.
  • A preference mismatch, when there is a difference between the types of jobs unemployed people are willing to take and the existing vacancies.

Knowing what’s in demand

The best way to keep from falling into the skills gap is to know what skills are in demand before you go back to school. And let me tell you this: you should be prepared to take some form of training beyond high school. Over sixty percent of all new jobs created in the next 10 years will require some form of post-secondary education.

"Over sixty percent of all new jobs created in the next 10 years will require some form of post-secondary education."

The Alberta government offers online resources to help you explore different occupations and see what type of schooling you’ll need to get a job in your field. 

Understanding future trends

You should also make sure your chosen career and skill set will be in demand for years to come. JSTL’s Alberta’s Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook uses current labour market information to forecast the demand for occupations in Alberta for the next 10 years. For example, occupations like physicians, heavy equipment operators, chefs and cooks are all forecasted to experience substantial labour shortages by 2023. 

At the end of the day, all forms of education are valuable to you and to Alberta’s economy. I encourage you to start studying before you start your studies, to make sure your choices set you on the road to success.