Environmental Job Market Trends
Job Posting Analysis: Data in real time
At ECO Canada, we continuously look for ways to deepen our understanding of the environmental job market and to improve the value of our reporting. Our Job Posting Analysis (JPA) interactive dashboard provides a snapshot of online recruitment activity levels and trends for Canadian environmental roles. We update our platform each quarter to share the most recent data, trends and insights by region, occupation, industry and environmental specialization.
Environmental Job Market Trends (January to March 2021)
Release Date: July 2021
The JPA relies on external vendors for job postings and is subject to updates as new data sources are incorporated each quarter. To adapt to these changes, we enhance our methodology and streamline reporting to accurately reflect labour market trends.
A Strong Start to 2021 for the Environmental Workforce
At the start of the new year, restrictions were eased to varying degrees across Canada and vaccination rollouts started to gain momentum, creating optimism that the country would soon rebound from the economic instability caused by COVID-19.
However, at the end of March, increased caseloads signaled the onset of a third wave, forcing public health measures to tighten and regions to implement strict stay-at-home orders. The fallout – an impacted labour market.
Total online job ads decreased by 18% from the previous quarter with just over 1,000,000 unique positions posted across Canada. Despite a reduction of close to 240,000 total job postings, the environmental sector experienced a 49% increase, painting a very different picture for the workforce from January to March 2021 (Q1). A little more than 55,800 environmental positions (enviro ads) were advertised this quarter, representing an increase of close to 18,450 job vacancies for the sector and a 5.1% EnviroShare (proportion of environmental job ads to total job ads).
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Nunavut posted a record number of enviro ads totaling 124 vacancies, 110% higher than reported in the previous quarter. British Columbia had the second highest percentage change at 64% (+5,041 enviro ads), followed closely by Quebec with a 63% increase (+4,854 enviro ads).
The territories continue to lead the country with an EnviroShare well above the national average. It is also worthy to note that Nunavut had an EnviroShare of 11.8%, which is the first time that this territory has surpassed the Northwest territories since the beginning of 2018. Manitoba, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces all fell below the national average.
Nationwide, the occupations with the highest enviro ads were Civil engineers, Inspectors in public and environmental health and occupational health and safety, and Information systems analysts and consultants, posting 4,942 (↑65%), 1,959 (↑76%), and 1,395 (↑42%) positions, respectively. Comparatively, occupations with the largest EnviroShare were Meteorologists and climatologists (70.0%), Conservation and fishery officers (68.7%), and Forestry professionals (65.2%).
Professional, scientific and technical services continue to have more environmental job postings than other industries (21,075 enviro ads), with the next largest being Manufacturing (3,697 enviro ads) and Health care and social assistance (3,450 enviro ads). When restrictions are eventually eased across Canada, industries that rely heavily on the physical presence of their workforce are likely to experience growth.
Sustainability, Natural Resource Management, and Energy specializations had the largest number of enviro ads this quarter, consistent with last year’s reporting. All specializations experienced growth, but the degree in which they grew varied. Environmental Protection and Resource Management specializations experienced higher growth than Environmental Sustainability, except for the Sustainability sub-sector, which increased by close to 9,400 enviro ads.
A Promising Path to a Green Recovery
Enviro ads from January to March 2021 reveal growth for the third consecutive quarter since the low vacancies reported between April and June 2020. Further, this quarter had the highest number of environmental job vacancies to date – exceeding the previous record of just over 45,700 enviro ads posted at the beginning of last year. Total enviro ads are up 22% from 2020, 30% from 2019 and 63% from 2018 when compared to the same quarter in previous years.
British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec experienced the largest gains of 5,041, 5,019, and 4,854 enviro ads, respectively. The average EnviroShare peaked at 5.1% in Canada, up from 4.3%, which was observed during the same quarter last year (↑0.8 percentage points).
Several factors could be influencing an increase in the proportion of environmental job vacancies relative to the total number of job ads across Canada. The environmental sector may be rebounding faster than others, the environmental workforce could be experiencing growth that exceeds pre-pandemic levels, or it could be a combination of the two. Although further studies on environmental employment will be needed to provide additional labour market insights into these trends, increased enviro ads signal that Canada is moving towards a green recovery.
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All occupations appear to be recovering, with some increasing at a faster rate than others. For instance, Natural and applied sciences and related occupations increased by over 8,850 enviro ads this quarter (↑67%) relative to the last quarter of 2020.
Comparatively, the second largest group was Management occupations with 8,096 enviro ads (↑48%). At the opposite end of the spectrum, Health occupations saw the smallest quarterly gain with 1,968 enviro ads (↑2%). Although our previous publication highlighted the significance of this increase relative to all other occupations at the end of last year, it appears that Health occupations may have now plateaued.
Similarly, the number of enviro ads across all industries increased in 2021 at unequal rates. Professional, scientific and technical services advertised 21,087 environmental job vacancies, compared to 13,496 from September to December 2020 (↑7,579 enviro ads).
Manufacturing saw the second highest number of job postings this quarter, with 3,697 enviro ads, relative to the 2,545 reported at the end of last year (↑1,152 enviro ads). The Health care and social assistance industry experienced another quarter of increasing enviro ads, which is relatively similar to the number of vacancies first observed last quarter (3,450 enviro ads).
As a result of increased enviro ads across all occupations and industries, it should come as no surprise that specializations also increased overall. Specializations that experienced the most pronounced increase from last year were those grouped into Environmental Protection, and Resource Management. Specializations in Environmental Sustainability increased disproportionately, with Sustainability and Policy & Legislation sub-sectors experiencing the most notable changes. Research & Development, Education & Training and Communications & Awareness sub-sectors also increased, but with less momentum than those indicated above.
As Canadians line up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, an increase in job vacancies across the country is consistent with economic recovery in some sectors.
The federal government has expressed that health measures will not be eased until at least 75% of the population has received one shot. Therefore, industries and occupations that rely on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions will not have the same rate of recovery as others, which economists are referring to the Canadian economic recovery as a “K-shaped” path to normalcy.
The Canadian Federal Budget 2021 promises a plan for jobs, growth and resilience over the coming years. Canada has committed to a $17.6 billion green recovery plan in an effort combat climate change and transition towards a net-zero economy. Increased investment across the environmental sector not only has the potential to influence workforce growth, but will also serve those hit hardest by the devastating effects of COVID-19, including youth and vulnerable and marginalized groups.
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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are ECO Canada’s and do not necessarily reflect those held by the Government of Canada.