Lost and Found: Pathways from disruption to employment

Building, testing, and learning from a new model to help displaced workers transition to jobs where employers are experiencing talent gaps
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Annalise Huynh
Policy Analyst + Designer
Creig Lamb
Senior Policy Analyst
Viet Vu
Economist

About this Report

We face a collective challenge. On one hand, it is essential to enable workers whose jobs may be threatened by disruption to secure gainful employment elsewhere. On the other, it is equally critical to meet the evolving skills demands of local employers so that they can remain competitive. In an ideal scenario, these two forces would overlap. However, traditional responses have not adequately addressed key components of this challenge. While there are many potential alignments between workers looking for jobs and employers looking for talent, a range of barriers prevent workers and employers from becoming aware of, acting on, or successfully realizing these opportunities. 

Even when we can identify promising pathways based on skills and experience rather than job titles and credentials, workers still face a range of barriers to pursuing those pathways successfully. Many factors conspire to keep otherwise suitable workers out of positions that need them, including an individual’s well-being and psychological readiness to pursue new opportunities after job loss; financial and geographic mobility constraints; firm hiring practices; and residual skills gaps and training needs. 

Read this report to help you:
  • Explore how existing labour market information can be applied to help workers facing or experiencing job loss, as well as employers who need talent.  
  • Consider the different use cases where this model could be applied or adapted by policymakers, workforce developers, service providers, and employers. 
  • Gain insight into how we designed and tested our job pathways model.
  • Consider the factors that might affect someone’s career transitions, outside of skills and knowledge fit.

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Methodology

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

  1. Develop a model to identify high-potential job pathways 

Our model focuses on identifying key areas of vulnerability and strength in a local labour market to illuminate potential pathways where labour may be better allocated. Starting with data on local employment and on similarities between the underlying skills required in different occupations, we also focus on individual- and firm-level considerations beyond what the data can show, which must be taken into account when validating potential pathways and designing interventions to realize them.

2. Test the pathways model in the GTHA

We tested the utility of the model by identifying five high-potential pathways in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and then using the model criteria to focus more closely on two of these pathways. To ensure that our pathways model could provide real-world value, we interviewed local employers, training providers, and educators about the challenges they see in realizing the pathways identified by the model, as well as the strategies needed to help workers successfully pursue these pathways. 

3. Explore lessons from applying the model

Drawing on the lessons we learned from developing and validating our pathways model, we explore how it could provide the groundwork for future research and interventions supporting job seekers and employers in different use cases. 

Playbook

The report is accompanied by a playbook that provides policymakers, workforce developers, and educators with a step-by-step guide on how to apply and adapt this new job pathways model in different use cases, including specific geographies, industries, and organizations.

Key findings from the report:

  • Labour market data can be used to identify potential pathways between jobs that are in decline and jobs that offer a more promising future⁠—and that local employers are looking to fill. This project combines data on, for example, the skills required in different occupations, local vacancy rates, overall employment numbers, historic growth, and pay to connect the dots between workers facing disruption at scale and emerging areas of opportunity.
  • However, a data-driven approach is insufficient. The perspectives of workers, trainers, and employers are also needed to determine whether a job transition is likely to work in practice. For example, a person’s identity, psychological readiness, access to social support, and financial and geographic mobility constraints may influence their ability and willingness to consider certain job opportunities. From the employer perspective, ease of recruitment and trusted signals of fit⁠—such as credentials, referrals, and common networks⁠—are equally important. 
  • Policies, services and digital tools that are aiming to identify high-potential job transition pathways and help people move along them should draw on labour market data while putting people at the centre of their design. One-size-fits-all approaches fall short.  
  • This new model can be widely applied. While it focuses on two specific cases (1- Motor Vehicle Assemblers, Testers and Inspectors → Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians and 2- Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Clerks → Financial Sales Representatives), the data and framework can be reoriented to, for instance, help employers and service providers respond to recent or impending layoffs, employers identify new sources of local talent, or policymakers focus resources and tailor programs to respond to emerging areas of opportunity and need.
  • BII+E plans to refine this model through a subsequent phase of human-centred design research that will further explore worker and employer experiences. 

Partners and Sponsors

Lost and Found is made possible thanks to support from JPMorgan Chase & Co and in collaboration with MaRS Data Catalyst and the Labour Market Information Council.

 

Expert Advisors

AJ Tibando
Fellow
Executive Director, Palette Inc.
Zahra Ebrahim
Zahra Ebrahim
Co-Lead, Doblin Canada
Daniel Munro
Research Advisor
Annalise Huynh
Policy Analyst + Designer
Creig Lamb
Senior Policy Analyst
Viet Vu
Economist

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Deep Dive

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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
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