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More than half a million jobs are expected to be created in the Toronto region over the next five years, but some of them will be low-wage, temporary or contract jobs without benefits, warns a new report from the Toronto Region Board of Trade and United Way Toronto.
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“There are downward pressures on the labor market that are effectively pushing young people and newcomers out of the positions they traditionally held,” said the report, “Closing the Prosperity Gap for a Liveable City Region,” published Wednesday.
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“The high number of applicants for low-wage, entry-level positions is significant,” said the report, the latest in the board’s “Think Twice, Vote Once” series on this year’s elections.
“As the number of middle-income jobs continues to shrink, a fragmented labor market between high-income and low-income jobs is becoming the norm.”
The report predicts that 271,721 new jobs will be created between 2014 and 2019, along with 248,160 expected retirements, and people will need to fill 519,881 positions.
The manufacturing industry is expected to release the most jobs, followed by the professional, scientific and technical services industries, followed by health and social services.
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This reflects an economy that is steadily moving away from resources and manufacturing, leading to reorganization and company closures. Instead, the number of temporary or contract jobs has increased, leading to a widening of the welfare gap.
“It’s an ongoing and devastating problem that we have,” said Susan McIsaac, president and CEO of United Way. “We have these geographic disparities between neighborhoods that are booming and neighborhoods that aren’t booming, and a growing disparity in the quality of jobs.”
The report breaks down labor market data and provides forecasts for which specific jobs will be most in demand through 2019 in the Greater Toronto Area. It lists the 100 most in-demand jobs and breaks down forecast jobs across the York, Durham, Halton and Peel regions.
In all regions, including Toronto, retailers top the list, followed by financial auditors and accountants, administrative assistants, and retail and wholesale managers, with elementary and kindergarten teachers rounding out the top five.
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However, the report cautions that the data only reflects the demand side of the labor market and does not take into account the supply side, such as those qualified to work in each occupation.
For example, while nearly 7,000 elementary and kindergarten teachers will be needed to replace retiring teachers and fill new positions, this number does not reflect anecdotal evidence that the Toronto region already has a teacher surplus.
“This means that it may still be difficult to find a job as a teacher in the Toronto region,” the report said, acknowledging that it may not be wise to encourage current students to go that route.
Occupations in demand include registered nurses, doctors, lawyers and senior managers in financial services, as well as food counter workers, janitors, cleaners and cashiers. Middle-income jobs include office workers, sales managers, and human resources professionals.
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McSack said the job outlook is promising, but the bigger question is whether it will create opportunities for everyone, including young people and newcomers, two groups with higher unemployment rates.
“It’s good that we have new jobs on the horizon. I hope that these numbers will result in permanent, full-time, secure jobs and that many of these opportunities will be available to some of the most vulnerable people in society,” she said.
But MacIsaac pointed to innovative programs, often launched with the help of academic institutions, to help people get their first job. She pointed to a project in the Weston-Mount Dennis area where groups work to help local youth prepare for paid internships at Irving Tissue.
Anne Sado, who chairs the council’s trade policy and advocacy committee, believes the economy is still struggling, but said various targeted programs are helping to create jobs.
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She pointed to Toronto’s food and beverage cluster, where George Brown College, which Sado leads as president, has a research studio that works with industry partners and the city’s economic development office. Since 2009, the program has helped 19 companies bring 49 products to market.
Transitional programs that help new immigrants settle in their fields or related fields are also important. Sado cited a construction manager program where newcomers who may have been architects or civil engineers in other countries can adapt their skills and find work here.
“There are a wide variety of careers and skills needed to make the city region work,” Sado said.
“As a young person, when you’re considering educational options, you have to think about where your talents and interests lie, and that should be part of the equation,” she said. “That kind of information is helpful because it helps them understand what the options are.”
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Both McSack and Sado encouraged municipal candidates to consider the government’s role in helping educational institutions and the private sector create jobs.
“I feel like that moment is now,” Mackeys said. “I feel like there are extraordinary partnerships that have developed and emerged, so how do we take those models and expand on them?”
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