About this report
Hundreds of thousands of people across Canada are employed in the food retail industry. As the sector continues to evolve, the demand for particular skills changes — along with the reality of many grocery jobs. A significant proportion of grocery workers expect to transition out of their jobs, into other occupations and sectors. This report builds on the Brookfield Institute’s existing work exploring ways to connect skilled workers with in-demand opportunities, focusing on opportunities for job transitions for workers in Ontario’s grocery sector.
Our earlier grocery-focused report, Shake-up in Aisle 21: Disruption, change and opportunity in Ontario’s grocery sector, reported on trends in Ontario’s grocery sector. Pathways Forward: Mapping Job Transitions for Ontario Food Retail Workers dives deeper into the nature of grocery work itself, exploring opportunities for people working as cashiers and as clerks, shelf stockers and order fillers in the food retail sector in Ontario. Report findings come from original, primary research conducted with hundreds of workers, employers, training providers and professional associations in late 2020 and early 2021. The team used a human-centered design lens to explore opportunities for workers, while leveraging the power of data-driven adjacency models and labour market data.
This report first investigates the skills that food retail workers (specifically: cashiers and clerks, shelf stockers and order fillers) use in their daily work. Using an adjacency model first employed in 2019’s Lost and Found report, the project identifies similar occupations that appear suitable based on comparable skills profiles. Later, the report identifies half a dozen promising opportunities for food retail workers — occupations with low barriers to entry, comparable or higher rates of pay and that labour market data and field research suggest are seeing stable or growing demand.
The report goes on to highlight careers in four major areas that might be suitable pathways: childcare practitioners, floor covering installers, food processing, and home support. Each of these careers are profiled for details such as entry requirements, nature of the work, and wage ranges. Each also provides frank advice from workers already in these industries.
Read this report to help you:
- Understand the hard and soft skills required of food retail workers and how these can be transferable to other occupations.
- Identify and explore a range of new career pathways that food retail workers might pursue — and how to navigate other sources of labour market information, job postings and employment supports in Ontario.
- Gain insights into work-related preferences and expectations of food retail workers from our survey.
- Understand practical challenges and opportunities associated with occupations experiencing talent gaps in Ontario.
- Better understand how policymakers and workforce developers could leverage data and human centered design to identify practical pathways for mid-career jobseekers.