Tony Bonen, Director of Research, Data and Analytics, LMIC, talked to CanadianSME about his collaboration with colleagues across government, academia, and the private sector to deliver high-quality labor market information.
Tony Bonen leads LMIC’s team of labor economists and data scientists. As part of the LMIC leadership team, he collaborates with colleagues across government, academia, and the private sector to deliver high-quality labor market information. Tony brings over 10 years of experience in quantitative and data analyses, econometrics, and research design.
Prior to joining LMIC, he led the development and integration of housing price and macroeconomic stress test models for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Other areas of research expertise include climate change economics, analysis of the US pension and retirement system, and economic policy and geopolitical analysis affecting member countries of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
During the summer, Tony enjoys playing tennis; in winter, he skates on the Rideau Canal.
Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) and the Future Skills Centre (FSC) recently released a report “Are Adults Making Use of Career Services in Canada” Can you please highlight some of the key findings from the report?
Our report highlights that only one-in-five Canadian adults have used career services in the past five years – this is half the rate of other countries like the US and UK. It’s a surprising figure because we know there has been so much disruption in the labor market recently, and it begs the question: why aren’t more Canadians using career services?
What barriers exist to the use of career services for Canadians? And have you noticed any major changes in recent years among the Canadian labor force?
We’ve been dealing with the pandemic for about 20 months at this point, and as a result, there have been major shifts in the labor market. As we continue to recover, many people are reconsidering their relationship to work, potentially changing career paths, or training in a new field. This means we are living in a time where career services are increasingly important to helping Canadians through their career transitions. However, the lack of awareness of these services and how to access them, as well as cost, are some of the reasons people are prevented from accessing career services.
What do you think needs to happen in order for Canadians to be more engaged in career services?
First, we need to build a broader understanding of what career development is. The report shows that people often consult their own trusted networks of friends and family about important career decisions and feel they are getting the information they need from these networks. This finding shows the need to build a broader understanding and awareness of what career development is and the unique expertise and value career professionals can offer to adults.
We also need to make sure career professionals are equipped with the information Canadians need most.
But skill requirements are also the most challenging type of data for career professionals to access. Tools like LMIC’s Canadian Online Jobs Posting Dashboard are one way that career professionals can learn about emerging trends in skills needs and gaps in the Canadian labor force, and an upcoming refresh to that dashboard in 2022 will make this important data easier for professionals to find.
Do you believe that there is a generational divide where younger workers are less reliant on job hunting sites because of the jobs offered through digital media?
An interesting finding from the survey was that 50% of Canadians aged 18-24 reported having used career services in the past five years compared to only one in five (19%) of Canadian adults aged 25-64. So we do know that younger workers are seeking out career advice from formal channels – it is likely these are services offered by their high school, university, or college.
What is your key advice to recent graduates looking for jobs? What are the benefits?
Take advantage of career services at your school. A lot of universities offer career counseling for free even after you’ve graduated. If your school doesn’t offer this, look to your community. There are career organizations that can help you work on your resume, cover letter, and interviewing skills. Tools like 211.ca provide free online and telephone directories that can connect you to career service providers in your community.