Labour Market Trends and Employment Counselling can guide Job seekers in the time of COVID

By: Maripi Leynes


The pandemic may have added more challenges in the search for the ideal job but it may have opened an opportunity to assess one’s goals and expectations. That may mean considering a career shift, an upgrading of skills to adapt to new opportunities or to jumpstart one’s career development plan while waiting for things to be back to normal.


Reassessment of goal and action

A timely virtual information session was organized by the UPAAT Education and Awareness Committee on November 26 to help with this reassessment of goal and action of jobseekers. This was presented by Norma Bernal, an employment counsellor at Skills for Change who was the guest speaker of event. She said that in the time of COVID, trends respond to change and employers adapt. Without mentioning it, so should job seekers learn to adapt. She spoke about the new normal where most job search is done online with little human interaction and everything is done virtually with no face-to-face and in-person interaction during interviews.




Identifying short-term and long-term goals

In her presentation on labour market trends, Bernal classified the information according to need. The first is for new immigrants to consider looking for survival jobs while settling in. She defines “survival job” as a short-term goal, something you take on out of necessity, because someone has to pay the rent and the bills, and not where you want to be in the long term, not until retirement. It can also be a part-time job you take while taking refresher courses or reviewing for a licensing or certification exam. For these job seekers, she recommends to read the article “Who’s Hiring in Canada” (updated November 25, 2020) by Juliette Faraut on LinkedIn. During the pandemic, there has been many job postings for essential workers and WFH (work from home). Some employers even offer incentives like higher rates (example, for PSWs). There are also new jobs created during the pandemic like “fulfillment associates, software developers” at Amazon, phone customer support, personal shoppers, Uber delivery, WFH software support, software developers, virtual counselling, webinar facilitators, and marketing and events planners. Bernal, however, advices job seekers to be job ready and to catch up on new apps and other developments.

The Long-Term is for job seekers who want to change careers or to stick with their intended career. This requires planning beyond the pandemic.


The future of work

Bernal precedes her advice with a caveat, “No one predicted the pandemic.” No one knows how long the economy’s recovery will take. And what the new normal will be. So, what is the future of work?

She recommends to use the trends analysis tool that the Government of Canada developed based on a model. The Beta version of the tool is available at the GOC Job Bank “Explore the Market” site. The tool allows the job seeker to visualize labour market information anywhere in Canada by occupation, wage, job outlook and more. The Job Banks page (modified Oct 2, 2020) will allow you to try the new tool.


If you think an alternative career is more doable than pursuing the career you were trained for in university, Bernal advices that you think, “What can give me a better future?” Examples she gave are, job security, more flexibility in job choices, more job perks like travel or continuing education. Some newcomers have chosen to take an MBA rather than prepare for a licensing exam. Others can work for the government, in an industry or work in the academe as a researcher or professor.


Bernal also gave a brief overview of the Ontario Employment Centre including new services and procedures for job seekers. She mentioned the assistance to employers who need extra help during the pandemic. Whatever action a job seeker intends to take after their self-reassessment and research, it may be worth consulting with an employment counsellor. There are employment centres throughout Canada. More information on Employment Counselling can be found on the settlement.org website. Help during the time of COVID is available by phone or virtual meeting.



(Normal Bernal is a UP alumna and an economist by profession. She earned an MA Development Studies major in Economic Policy & Planning from the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. She worked as Chief Economist at the National Economic Development Authority and Researcher/Fellow, Philippine Institute of Development Studies (PIDS) in the Philippines. In Canada, she was instructor/lecturer of Development Economics at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario. She now works as an Employment Counsellor at Skills for Change. She also writes a column on New Immigrants and the Workplace for Filipino Bulletin in Toronto and Artista Filipino Magazine, Winnipeg).