Job Pathways: From theory to practice

A new model for identifying the pathways available to connect displaced workers with employers experiencing talent gaps

Project Team

Creig Lamb
Senior Policy Analyst
Annalise Huynh
Policy Analyst + Designer
Viet Vu
Economist
Meghan Hellstern
Senior Projects Officer
Erin Warner
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Sarah Doyle
Director of Policy + Research

Why we’re doing this project

Emerging evidence shows that workers who are displaced from their jobs, or facing disruption, have many of the skills and abilities to fill existing demand in other roles. However, barriers such as incomplete information, lack of tailored support, and unclear guidance may be preventing such transitions from happening. 

Collaborating with partners, including MaRS Data Catalyst and the Labour Market Information Council, and with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co, we’re working to develop a new model for identifying job pathways that connect displaced, skilled workers with employers experiencing talent gaps. This model will be tested initially within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), with the hope that it could be applied to other jurisdictions if it proves to be successful.

The latest waves of labour market change are driving demand for certain skill sets while also enabling a wider array of tasks to be automated or carried out elsewhere in the world. In this context of disruption, anxieties around labour shortages and layoffs are on the rise. Uncertainty surrounding previously reliable employers, such as automotive assembly plants and oilfield services companies, coupled with apparent hiring gaps and the growing importance of tech jobs has heightened the urgency of calls to support workers and employers alike in navigating a changing labour market. 

In this research, we want to take a closer look at possible job pathways (a transition from one job to another) in order to identify those that are high-potential job pathways (a transition from a job that is in decline or likely to be disrupted to another job that is growing, based on both a similarity of skills required as well as individual- and employer-based factors). An exploration of job pathways must go beyond skill requirements alone to reflect the realities of how career transition and hiring processes work for specific geographies, industries, organizations, and individuals. We’re excited to use a mixed-methods approach that combines quantitative analysis and qualitative design research to develop a model for identifying and assessing high-potential job pathways. 

This project builds upon our past work in a variety of areas, including our research on automation, our Employment in 2030 initiative that explores how a wide array of trends might impact future skill demand across Canada, and Palette Inc., a national nonprofit incubated at the Brookfield Institute in its pilot phase, which helps mid-career workers whose jobs are threatened by automation gain the skills needed to transition into high-demand careers.

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Our Approach

Methodology

To bring new insights to policymakers, workforce developers, educators, and others interested in this challenge, the project will combine data analysis and ethnographic research to explore how we can help workers recover from disruption more effectively, while also providing employers with new ways of sourcing talent. 

For this project, we are: 

  1. Developing a pathways model that can highlight opportunities for connecting skilled workers with firms that need talent in ways that workers and firms may not be utilizing.
  2. Illustrating the utility of the model by identifying and examining a number of high-potential pathways in the GTHA, and then using the criteria defined by this model to focus more closely on several of the pathways. 
  3. Validating these high-potential pathways with employers, training organizations, and policymakers to understand how to most effectively guide workers through these pathways.
  4. Articulating additional challenges, strategies and lessons for making the general model more grounded the reality of job transitions and effective for people navigating the workforce.
  5. Drawing on what we’ve learned from developing and validating our pathways model to see if it might provide the groundwork for future research or interventions that support job seekers and employers. 

Potential for Future Research and Interventions

Our aim is to create a model for identifying high-potential job pathways that can be replicated and used across other contexts. With this in mind, there are a number of possibilities for further testing and validating our model. For instance, a future phase of research could employ a qualitative design approach  to delve into the lived experiences of workers and job seekers to pinpoint critical factors and criteria impacting their job transitions. 

If our model proves to be effective, there is also potential to design or test existing interventions that help move workers along one or more of the high-potential job pathways that we identify in this first phase of research. 

Our Expert Advisors

Zahra Ebrahim
Zahra Ebrahim
Co-Lead, Doblin Canada
Daniel Munro
Daniel Munro
Visiting Scholar, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
AJ Tibando
Fellow
Executive Director, Palette Inc.

Our Funders

This project is supported by:

We’re actively seeking funders and partners to support future phases of this research. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Mark Hazelden, mark.hazelden@ryerson.ca.

Creig Lamb
Senior Policy Analyst
Annalise Huynh
Policy Analyst + Designer
Viet Vu
Economist
Meghan Hellstern
Senior Projects Officer
Erin Warner
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Sarah Doyle
Director of Policy + Research

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Deep Dive

3 Results

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Oct 23, 2019

To cut straight to the heart of our research, we’ve created a playbook for policymakers, workforce developers, employers, and service providers to identify transitions from declining to growing jobs
A playbook to connect people looking for jobs with employers looking for people

Oct 23, 2019

A new model for identifying pathways to connect displaced workers with employers experiencing talent gaps
Lost and Found: Pathways from disruption to employment

Oct 23, 2019

Building, testing, and learning from a new model to help displaced workers transition to jobs where employers are experiencing talent gaps
Lost and Found: Pathways from disruption to employment
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