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Hot jobs: Here are Canada's top 15 employment prospects for 2018

It’s a great time to be looking for work as a receptionist, an accountant or a forklift operator in Canada. These are among the top 15 most in-demand jobs in 2018, according to staffing and human resources service company Randstad.

They join the usual top job prospect fields of IT project manager and software engineer.

“Manufacturing is booming and then logistics follows that, along with engineering,” Carolyn Levy, president of Randstad’s technologies division, told “Finance job opportunities have also been rebounding.”

Canada’s strong economy fuelled a fall in the unemployment rate to 5.7 per cent in December. That’s the lowest it’s been in the 41 years Statistics Canada has collected the data. Employment growth defied expert expectations throughout 2017, with a total number of jobs created hitting 423,000.

Average hourly earnings rose 2.7 per cent, to $26.68, over 2017 and some analysts believe strong job growth and a low unemployment rate will continue to push wages upward in 2018.

By crunching end-of-year data from CEB’s Wanted Analytics, which tracks a number of job posting platforms, and its own internal job openings and job placements tracking systems across Canada’s markets, Randstad has come up with a list of the top 15 most in-demand jobs for 2018 and average salaries or wages for a mid-level worker (unless indicated otherwise).

1. General labourer, $15.90 to $18.39 an hour


They are the jacks-of-all-trades, taking on all the jobs that need to be done in manufacturing, logistics and construction – cleaning, loading and unloading, some assembly line work, packaging, and general handy work. These jobs are often staffed through contract labour so that businesses can respond to the ebbs and flows of demand, says Levy.

Experience and attitude are key to these jobs, says Levy. “If you show a commitment to getting the job done, and show up on time, you will have a chance to move up in these jobs.”

General labour jobs are often in demand but automation is a concern for the future. “We will see a trend to moving toward the skilled trades like welding and machining. We expect it to slow down.”

2. Sales representative, $52,000 to $64,000 (junior level)

Without people in sales, product doesn’t move off the shelf. Sales jobs include those selling directly to consumers but also in high demand are those who sell to other businesses, says Levy. “When we are talking about B2B, that is more about account management and those are more senior positions.”

Demand for salespeople varies organization to organization and sector to sector, depending on performance, competition and economic trends, says Levy.

3. Accountant, $63,000 to $75,000


According to Randstad, a certified professional accountant designation “will all but guarantee you steady employment in 2018.” Levy says a growing skill in the field is in data analytics and technical skills around software, though employers are willing to train new hires who demonstrate an ability and willingness to learn. Demand is especially being fueled by recovery in the financial sector.

4. Engineering project manager, $74,000 to $92,000

These are the people who ensure construction projects – from high-rises to bridges - go off without a hitch. Thanks to a push on infrastructure from the federal government and a still-hot housing market in some parts of the country, they will continue to be in demand this year. Of course, a professional engineering designation is key, along with experience.

5. Business analyst, $73,000 to $87,000

Business analysts are expected to combine technical and business skills and “depending on the scope of their role, business analysts may be involved in strategic planning, analysis, and optimization of internal business systems,” said Randstad. Business analysts tend to have a traditional business or economics degree, combined with IT training or experience.

6. Customer service representative, $37,000 to $43,000

These jobs are centred on ensuring a customer – a consumer or another business – are happy with your company’s product or service before and after they buy. They are often based in call centres but can be face-to-face, too, says Levy. She says the technical aspect of these jobs is growing, but employers are most interested in soft skills in new hires, such as phone etiquette, patience and problem-solving skills.

There had been concern these jobs were being largely outsourced to offshore operations. “From an office-work perspective, it had seemed these jobs would be rendered obsolete, but the opposite seems to be true. They are more in demand than ever but moving to looking for business and tech skills.”

7. IT project manager, $92,000 to $114,000


This is the most highly paid job on the list and the red-hot demand for IT specialists shows no sign of cooling off, says Levy. That’s because most organizations would grind to a halt if IT operations faltered. IT project managers oversee developers, analysts and other tech professionals, along with budgets and timelines for IT projects.

“Any candidates trying to figure out where they want to go, or young people figuring out what they want to do, especially women looking at technology, this is the place to go,” said Levy. “We are going to run out of talent if we don’t start training more people.”

8. Account manager, $75,000 to $92,000

They are the primary point of contact in B2B relationships, have extensive experience in sales and typically have a degree or diploma. They must keep customers happy and find opportunities with new customers, new sales channels and new sectors. They are expected to grow their employer’s bottom lines.

“They have to understand their customer’s scope and how they can improve their processes and efficiencies and sales,” said Levy.

9. Software engineer, $83,000 to $99,000


Software is everywhere these days – smartphones and the apps they use, cars, appliances, manufacturing equipment - and that means those who build software are in high demand. They are employed in tech companies that sell software platforms but also in virtually all large-scale operations, from government agencies to banks.

“In 2018, software engineering is a candidate-driven field, so skilled candidates have their pick of jobs,” says Randstad’s report.

10. Forklift operator, $16.59 to $19.42 an hour

The rapid growth in ecommerce has given rise to new warehouse and fulfillment centres across Canada. Fork lift drivers are needed to move, stack and inventory merchandise that is headed for delivery to consumers.

General labourers who show an appetite to learn, diligence and ambition are often chosen by employers for the safety training and certification needed to become forklift drivers, says Levy. “That’s definitely a way to grow your career in manufacturing, construction or logistics.”

11. Recruiter, $59,000 to $71,000

U.S. economy showing signs of recovery

When the job market is hot, so is demand for recruiters.

“Everything is about the war for talent,” said Levy. “Companies want to find a recruiter who gets their brand, their internal culture, and who can bring their values and mission to life.”

Recruiters, who have to understand job trends and what each company is looking for, either work in staffing agencies or in in-house HR departments. Demand is particularly high for recruiters in candidate-driven fields, such as technology and engineering.

12. Administrative assistant, $44,000 to $52,000

These are the people who ensure everyone in the office has what they need to do their jobs. They take care of clerical tasks and bookkeeping and increasingly, are being asked to have a knowledge of accounting and technology, said Levy. “We are definitely seeing a more well-rounded role here.”

13. Assembler, $17.62 to $20.63 an hour

This is a job description that has long been expected to be taken over by automation. “Yet we are still seeing it on the top 15 list. It’s still important,” said Levy. In fact, according to Randstad’s data, assembling jobs are on the rise in 2018, following a strong year in Canada’s manufacturing sector. Tech-savvy assemblers capable of operating a variety of high machinery are especially in demand, says Randstad.

14. Machinist, $22.36 to $26.81 an hour

Machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders, to produce precision metal parts either in large batches or custom items. CNC machinists, who oversee the work of expensive heavy equipment and can program computer numerical controls, are especially in demand in 2018, says Randstad.

15. Receptionist, $35,000 to $41,000


This is another job expected to be swallowed by automation but it’s still a strong area in the job market, said Levy. “Organizations are looking to accelerate with technology but they also want to keep that human touch.” Receptionists greet clients and visitors at a place of business, and often handle the phones. The job is becoming more technical and knowledge-based.