Skill set mismatch: Most open jobs only need high school education, leaving many people overqualified

Numbers from Statistics Canada released this week show nearly half of job-seeking Canadians have a post-secondary degree or diploma, but two-thirds of the vacancies across the country in 2015 and 2016 didn't require more than a high school education.

Nearly half of job hunters have degrees or diplomas, but two-thirds of open jobs only require high school

Statistics Canada numbers reported this week show nearly half of unemployed Canadians have a degree or diploma, but two-thirds of vacant jobs only require a high school education. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

New numbers from Statistics Canada released this week show nearly half of job-seeking Canadians have a post-secondary degree or diploma.

But two-thirds of vacancies nationally in 2015 and 2016 didn't require more than a high school education.

"If unemployed university-educated persons restricted their job search only to jobs requiring a university education, there would be over 5.9 unemployed university graduates per job opening," Statistics Canada said in a release.

Employment experts in Calgary say the numbers reflect what's happening in the energy capital, where there are lots of over-qualified professionals — including many who worked in the oil and gas sector — facing the prospect of accepting lower-paying jobs.

Laura Hambley, the founder of Calgary Career Counselling, says things have not been easy for Calgary's highly-educated job seekers.

"We've seen so many people struggling with that — over not being able to find a job in their chosen career and trying to be strategic and creative about what to do in the meantime to fill in that gap, because they need a paycheque," Hambley said.

The health sector, particularly nursing, fared the best nationally in terms of the right people finding the right jobs, with 0.3 unemployed persons per job vacancy.

Trades and natural resources had far higher unemployment-to-job-vacancy ratios, with 3.5 unemployed per job vacancy.

Over-educated should head back to school

Sharlene Massie, the owner of Alberta-based recruitment firm About Staffing, says she has been seeing a lot of resumes with large gaps, which she said can be problematic for companies looking to hire.

"What people are going to have to learn to do is fill in that gap with something. You can't have a blank," she said.

Sharlene Massie, CEO of About Staffing, says more and more job hunters in Calgary have big gaps in their resumes. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

"We can already see there are a number of people that are very well educated, who are not going to find employment. They've been out of work already for two years, three years, some of them now, it's starting to turn into four," she said. 

Unemployed and over-educated job seekers need to consider re-training — going back to school and learning new skills — if they want to find work in Alberta's current job market, she says.

"Just because they've been educated in one particular area, that doesn't mean that's where they need to stay forever," Massie said, adding there are some great opportunities coming to Calgary.

"It's a pretty exciting time for people who are willing to open up their minds to maybe doing things other than what they were trained to do originally."

With files from Dan McGarvey