Thinkopolis Report: The Second Edition | The Future of Students and the Workplace


It's September, and savvy senior students are wondering what opportunities await them after graduation. With a stubbornly high unemployment rate, and a slow economic recovery, young professionals will need plenty of persistence to break into the job market. Most graduating students will need to start with an accessible, entry-level position to gain experience. Workopolis has the latest data on what entry-level jobs are available to new professionals trying to build their resumes.

According to a recent report compiled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, more than 290,000 jobs went unfilled in the second quarter of 2013. These results are another indication that opportunity for young professionals exists; it's just a matter of acquiring the right skills, and getting your foot in the door.

A place to start


Canada's students and employers are visiting the Workopolis Student Centre to get connected. Since 2012 this site has seen an 80 per cent increase in job postings for students and entry-level workers. When employers choose to reach out to new professionals they are looking for more than just another employee. They are looking for new perspectives, fresh ideas, and renewed energy.

Tips for working part time, full time

While economic indicators are pointing to a gradual recovery, many of the jobs created in 2013 are part time and contract work. There has been a 16% year-over-year increase in postings for part-time positions on Workopolis and a 5% increase in contract jobs. Short-term or casual gigs might offer little in the way of benefits or long-term job security, but they can often be the most accessible to students entering the job market. New professionals may need to be prepared to accept multiple short-term contract positions in order to obtain the experience and accomplishments necessary to create a winning resume. While most people will eventually transition to one full time position, managing multiple jobs can be a great way to increase your income at the same time as gaining variety of valuable on-the-job experience and connections.

Short-term contracts can offer new professionals opportunities to network and gain experience. Soft skills become increasingly important in this environment. Contracts can often be extended, and even temporary employment can lead to other opportunities. Take the time to learn from coworkers, share your interests, make yourself valuable, and keep your ears open for further opportunities.

A recent report by CIBC World Markets highlights the fact that younger workers are increasingly competing with older, more experienced members of the workforce for even low paying, part time jobs. This increased competition you should spur young professionals to aggressively seek skills training, and to model their job search for the new, social economy.

Reputation management, personal branding, and careful marketing of your skills are essential in today’s job market. Young professionals need to be aware of their presence on social media. A job seeker’s Twitter feed should highlight their professional strengths, not pictures of their brunch.

Job seekers can find the job opportunities you need to get started as well as tips for managing your career from co-op to corner office on Workopolis, Canada’s leading careers and employment website.

Emerging opportunities: Hot jobs that didn't exist ten years ago

Analysts have observed that it’s increasingly difficult for educational institutions to keep their students abreast of the latest trends in their chosen industries. Industries are changing faster than ever before. For young professionals, this can provide opportunities to work in roles that may not even have existed when they started school. Older workers often look to interns and temp workers for knowledge of trending technologies. As these technologies mature, they create brand new industries themselves.

To help young job seekers target their efforts, Workopolis has observed at ten up and coming jobs that barely existed a decade ago that are experiencing rapidly growing demand right now. These can be fueled by technological advancements or changes in culture and demographics.

  • Social Media / Online Community Manager
  • Mobile Applications Developer
  • User Experience Designer
  • Search Engine Optimization Specialist
  • Sustainability Expert
  • Elder-Care Services Coordinator
  • Blogger / Web content strategist
  • Yoga / Zumba / Pilates instructor
  • Big Data Analyst
  • Privacy Officer

Knowing what to expect – the salary discussion

A common complaint from recruiters is that new professionals simply don’t know what to expect or may have unrealistic expectations. Candidate information from the millions of resumes in Workopolis' database indicates that new entrants to the job market have the same salary expectations as those with 1-3 years of experience. It also indicates that as people spend more time in the professional world, their salary expectations become more realistic.

Based on data from Workopolis, of the postings that include a starting salary, over a third of entry-level positions have a starting range of 30-40K. The latest data from StatsCan indicates that the average hourly wage for young Canadians 15-24 is around $14. Part-time and temporary workers also earn around $30,000, their average hourly wages coming in at around $16-18. The good news for all temporary workers is that average hourly wages are trending upwards, up 3.8 per cent from 2012.

While some students may have to put fantasies of immediately escaping student debt on hold, patience will pay off. It’s clear that as workers gain experience, salaries increase. For example, StatsCan data indicates a significant increase in average hourly wages for the 25-55 year old cohort.

Opportunities map: Where is the best place to start?

Graduating students are often open to re-locating for their first job. While many people are hesitant to move to a new city for anything but a permanent full time job, re-locating for a temporary or entry-level position may be a good idea for new professionals anxious for their first opportunity. Workopolis has mapped out what areas of the country have the most opportunities for new professionals hoping to gain some experience.

The low unemployment rates in the Western provinces from Manitoba to the Pacific have led to an increased demand for workers of all levels. This is particularly acute to the point of labour shortage in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Quebec and Ontario have close to the national average unemployment rates, while the Maritimes have the highest levels of joblessness nationally.

Top 10 available jobs for students/new grads

Students often lament that most job postings request at least some professional experience. This can be hard to obtain when no one will hire you without it in the first place. People who are just starting out in their career frequently have to take jobs that are outside of their chosen field in order to start building a professional reputation and earning some real-world experience.

Available entry-level jobs on Workopolis right now are front line administrative positions, customer service representatives, and sales related positions. These types of positions offer many ways in which a young professional can demonstrate their value, and gain valuable experience and transferrable skills. The high demand for healthcare professionals such as nurses and physiotherapists mean that these graduates are recruited right out of school.

Young professionals should not shy away from a temporary administrative assistant posting, even if the company just needs a temporary fill for someone on maternity or paternity leave. These jobs often offer plenty of opportunities for young professionals to demonstrate their value. For example, administrative assistants have access to senior management on a daily basis. Sales and customer service professionals build their communication skills and networking abilities.

The real wages of your first jobs are the ability to build a reputation as a conscientious hard worker, and learn the transferable skills that that will help you throughout your entire career. Along with communication skills these include: relationship building, problem solving, entrepreneurial thinking, collaboration and teamwork, leadership abilities, and more.

These soft skills will always be in demand, and having a variety of short-term or part-time jobs can be a great way to learn them at the same time as experiencing different kinds of roles, jobs and industries in the ever-changing world of work.


1 Canadian Federation of Independent Business
2 Statistics Canada
3 Statistics Canada


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