Matching People with Jobs and Jobs with People

Jeff Griffiths and Janet Lane | October 2023
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Executive Summary

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In today’s rapidly changing workplace, employers often don’t have true understanding of the skills they are looking for. Candidates have trouble describing how and why they are a good fit. Learning providers have difficulty keeping programs relevant to evolving requirements of jobs. The result is a mismatch between jobs and people. 

A new Canada West Foundation report, Matching People with Jobs and Jobs with People, offers recommendations to help employers and candidates better communicate using the language of competencies – the skills, knowledge and attributes that allow for a successful hire.  

Employers currently use a system of proxies – degrees, diplomas, years of experience, etc. – when looking for candidates. But these don’t necessarily translate to the skills and knowledge needed on the job. The mismatch has become even more pronounced because of the technological change reshaping the workplace – old job descriptions just aren’t a good fit anymore. 

The problem can be dealt with through a move to a competency-based system.

Competencies – the demonstrated ability to apply skills, knowledge and other attributes in a particular job context to achieve particular outcomes – are broadly recognized as superior not only for hiring, but also as signals for learning programs to adjust what is taught, for credentialing programs to adjust what is certified, and for individuals to present to potential employers as evidence of their value.

However, in Canada’s current labour market, these are inadequately addressed by different components of the system. If they were better expressed, they would constitute a more efficient, effective and faster way to ease the frictions in the labour market, resulting in better outcomes for all players in the system.  

Much of the system needed to make the adoption of competency as the labour market communication tool is already available, however much remains to be done. Canada West Foundation’s new report offers recommendations to complete the system.

Further reading:

POLICY BRIEF | What Now? Rapid Employee Upskilling and Reskilling
Janet Lane and Taylor Blaisdell, Nov. 2022

POLICY BRIEF | What Now? Micro Credentials: ‘Small’ qualifications, big deal
Janet Lane and Stephen Murgatroyd, Sept. 2021

REPORT | Upgrade: Towards a Rural Digital Economic Strategy
Jane Lane and Sarah Pittman, July 2020

POLICY BRIEF | What Now? Digital Skills Decoded
Janet Lane, Dec. 2019

POLICY BRIEF | What Now? Blueprints for work-based learning
Janet Lane, Oct. 2018

REPORT | Matchup: A case for pan-Canadian competency frameworks
Janet Lane and Jeff Griffiths, February 2017

REPORT | Beyond the Rules: Moving safety from compliance to competence
Janet Lane, May 2017

REPORT | The Skill Advantage: The 21st century challenge for Canada’s unions
Janet Lane and Jeff Griffiths, May 2017