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Job Pathways Playbook, 2021 edition

June 2021

Job Pathways Playbook, 2021 edition


  • Kimberly Bowman
  • Annalise Huynh
  • Linda Nguyen
  • Diana Rivera
  • Josephine Tsui


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Executive Summary

Our working lives span decades and as the nature of work and demand for skills and expertise in our economies rapidly shifts, workers can expect to encounter multiple transition points including changes on the job and between jobs. Policymakers, workforce developers, employers and unions all have a role to play in supporting workers as they understand and experience change and navigate transitions. Finding the right transition—identifying and navigating a pathway to new work that takes advantage of existing skills—is a huge opportunity and challenge that millions of Canadians will face, now and in the future.

This playbook is a starting point for such supporters. It offers you the outline for how to use data—including available labour market information and appropriate primary and secondary qualitative data—to identify, explore and test employment options for mid-career workers. We call this process Job Pathways because it involves starting at one point (an “origin” occupation), identifying potential end points (“destination” occupations) and tracing out a ”path” between those two points, which might also include intermediate steps such as training or other work experience. The Brookfield Institute’s Job Pathways projects incorporate a “human-centered design” approach to seeking pathways that can work for people (employers and workers) in the real world. Using this approach can illuminate new possibilities and eliminate inappropriate ones, in a manner that using only labour-market information does not.

This second edition of the Playbook builds on the method first outlined and tested in 2019’s Lost and Found: Pathways from disruption to employment. This revised edition builds on experience applying the model in Ontario’s food retail sector, as outlined in our 2021 report Pathways in Food Retail. This playbook integrates new lessons and details the evolution of our approach.

Who is this for?

  • Policymakers
  • Workforce developers and service providers
  • Employers
  • Anyone interested in using labour market information to meet the challenge of supporting peoples’ work transitions into sustainable, resilient employment

What’s changed?

  • Our 2019 edition involved occupations in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) showing clear signs of decline. Our 2021 edition explored transitions for workers in occupations that are not in obvious decline but that feature a workforce with high levels of annual turnover, and large numbers expecting to undertake future job transitions.
  • Both 2019 and 2021 editions involve use of publicly-available labour market data. The type of data used and the cutoff values were different. In addition, in 2021 the team exercised informed judgment to filter out occupations affected by conditions not represented in historical labour market data (for example, filtering out jobs in recreation likely to experience ongoing pandemic-related effects). The 2021 approach applies the perspectives and advice of workers in origin occupations (through use of formal project advisors) to inform instrument design, project-related communications, and as points of reference for the research team.
  • This version also represents an ambition to incorporate critical intersectional analysis, to explore opportunities and barriers for people with different profiles and characteristics—including gender, age, race, caregiver status, and disability status.
  • In this edition, we have broadening the list of factors to consider and apply when seeking to “match” origin occupation workers to potentially suitable destination occupations.
  • We have also provided a suite of tested approaches and instruments that teams could adapt and apply in their own context, as they explore job pathways.