Dear Elcee:

 

I want to go back to school but I don’t know what to study. I am 44 years old and I was recently laid off from my job in manufacturing, all those jobs are leaving or have already left Canada. I want to make sure that whatever field I go into now isn’t going to go away. What are the hot jobs in the labour market so that I can be sure!

 

Undecided

 

Dear Undecided:

Just wait a moment... I have to go polish my crystal ball. Oh darn... it’s cloudy. Seriously though, I don’t have a crystal ball. While I certainly can empathise with you wanting a “sure thing” there is no guarantee that whatever you study is going to be that.

That being said.. I am not without some good advice (at least “I” think so). When choosing a career I know you have heard this before but it is an important piece of advice DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW. (And by that I recognise that one needs to make a decent, living wage. No one is truly happy if they are worrying about bills)

           Studies done recently among the elderly say that the one thing they regret is not pursuing work that they wanted to do. According to The Legacy Project (www.legacyproject.human.cornell.edu) the two most common pieces of advice seniors offer is to do work you like and to find your passion and pursue it. Think about this. The next time you go to your local department store or have to get some help at a government office look around at the people who work there. Chances are, the person you would want to work with is the person who enjoys the job. They are often the same workers who are more likely to be successful.   People who genuinely enjoy the work they do are willing to come in earlier, work hard, stay later. .

Oh, but how can I do that? What I would love to do is be a Fire Fighter or an Opera Singer. Is it too late? Well, it may or may not be. But chances are the person who wanted to be a Fire Fighter is not a person who is going to be happy sitting behind a desk all day. He or she may be someone who is interested in Emergency Planning or Emergency Dispatch. The budding Opera Singer may look for work in an industry that promotes the arts.   Personally, I love career counselling. It combines a number of my passions.. talking to people, research, working in a team setting, helping people reach their potential. But in my past I also loved waitressing because, again, I enjoyed talking to people, ensuring they had a great dining experience, recommending dishes.  

Think about the things you love to do and make a vertical list of jobs that would embody those skills from the lowest to the highest paid. (Mine goes from WalMart Greeter to Talk Show Host). Someone else may go from Filing Clerk to Forensic Accountant. For extra research check out these two great sites... www.poss.ca for career advice and job search tools along with Career Cruising (www.careercruising.com). Your local library or Employment Centre can provide you with a password to access Career Cruising. To find your closest EC just call 211 free from any phone or go to www.211toronto.ca.

Know Thyself... Examine where your skills and abilities lie. Ask people you trust to tell you where they feel your skills lie. I tried that once thinking the person was going to say what I thought about myself .. this person told me that I was “solution focussed” I was surprised. It wasn’t a word I would have used but on examination I realised she was right.    

For extra help I love the book “What Colour is Your Parachute” by Dick Bolles. A new version is published every year. However, he does host an online site called The Job Hunters Bible (www.jobhuntersbible.com) which has an assortment of online testing, resources and advice

Finally, I come to the Labour Market. Ensure that the labour market information you do look into is accurate and reliable. Beware who is giving the information and stick to government sites. Statistics can be manipulated to reflect any outcome you wish. The best one I can recommend is www.workingincanada.gc.ca . This site is chockfull of labour market statistics It is easy to use and can be narrowed down to the region of Canada that you live in. It will give you information on what jobs are available, information about job duties and where you can study or train.

Well, Undecided. I am sorry I cannot tell you exactly what path or field to choose. I get asked this same question every day and haven’t yet provided an answer. However, through careful examination and research I have seen many people go on to do work they find rewarding and fulfilling. Good Luck!

Toronto, Canada