Janet Tobin
Janet Tobin, Director of Marketing & Communications

The cards I used for the “Matching Game” when I was a child had pictures of people doing different kinds of work; a nurse, a carpenter, a farmer. There were 36 cards in the deck I used, leaving only 18 options for matches. Nowadays the deck is a little more metaphorical and seems to have an infinite number of cards where the objective is to not just match two of the same image, but rather to match an infinite number of occupations with an infinite number of skills sets.

As we saw in the March issue of Business Voice, employees seeking jobs that best match specific skills sets, and employers searching for the ‘perfect candidate’ is proving more difficult as there is a growing gap between the types of skills and workers that are needed and the types of workers and skill sets available.  And unlike in the Matching Game, neither can wait for the perfect match, rather both will need to compromise.

As jobs become more complex so are the requirements for these jobs. As the job market shifts towards science, technology and innovation we will need to see a shift in the basic education from liberal arts to scientific, or technology based.

Current employees may not always be able to rely on their current skills as technology and job requirements change.  Job seekers and students will see the types of jobs available become more diverse and require a wide range of skills. Adaptability will be the most sought-after skill. Having a strong set of transferrable skills or a willingness to train and re-train in areas of high growth will be what employers will find most attractive.

So while job seekers are faced with the challenge of developing an adaptable and appropriate set of skills, employers are faced with the challenge of retiring baby boomers and changes in the type of worker one needs to stay competitive.

The baby boomers that are retiring haven’t worked for years in entry level jobs, they have worked their way up the corporate ladder, built careers around specialized skills, and most likely cannot be replaced by someone fresh out of university. This coupled with the need for today’s workers to be more tech savvy means employers will need to recognize that the odds of finding the perfect candidate that satisfy a check list of skills to replace those retiring boomers is getting smaller and that they will likely have to take a chance on a new graduate or someone with limited experience. While it may be more difficult to match certain skills to specific jobs, it will become easier to train and educate people to grow into jobs or adapt to new jobs. In the coming years it will be critical that employers invest in new, younger, or less experienced workers through training and continuing education.

Now we are not talking about this being an instant transition, we don’t all need to start going back to school or changing job descriptions and requirements, and we aren’t saying graduating with a science degree is going to guarantee you an instant job on graduation day. But it is around the corner and we do need to be aware that changes will be necessary and the more prepared we are, the better.