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Job Talks 1 – “Trading Up”

Job Talks 1 – “Trading Up”


An over-reliance on a college or university education as the foundation of a successful career has led to a class of jobs seen as “backup” options if one cannot attain post-secondary credentials. Many of these occupations are traditionally thought of as “skilled trades” that require specialized, practical (i.e. non-academic) knowledge and on-the-job training. There is little understanding of what exactly motivates individuals to pursue work in these fields and low visibility as to the benefits and drawbacks of the working experience. This has stymied efforts to promote these occupations as viable, fulfilling career options.


In partnership with Q.i. Value Systems, Job Talks commissioned a ground-breaking study of individuals employed in the Skilled Trades to discover their motivations and experiences. To compare these results to the general population, a parallel study of all working Canadians was completed using many of the same metrics. Based on a representative sample of working Canadians, Q.i. was able to segment the population into 5 broad groups based on their work-related values, encapsulating their engagement, satisfaction, and fulfillment with their working lives. By comparing the two studies, Job Talks and Q.i. discovered individuals employed in the Skilled Trades tend to cluster in the more desirable work-values segments, experience more positive emotions and self-perception at work, and are generally more satisfied with their jobs and thus their personal lives.


Armed with this new knowledge and the data to back it, Job Talks embarked on a knowledge mobilization campaign. This campaign began with a series of videos to bring the research findings to life, where Skilled Trades workers relate their experiences in their own words. The reporting and video series were promoted at multiple conferences (over 20 to-date) and have led to follow-up studies focused on industries that employ Skilled Trades workers. Since partnering with Q.i., Job Talks has amassed a large social media following, racking up over 1 million views on YouTube across more than 100 videos shared with 8.5k subscribers. Job Talks has since expanded its scope to focus on career-related research on topics like accessibility and educational pathways for youth, and other media ventures such as the Job Talks podcast. Q.i. has also continued to develop innovative, career-related research tools in partnership with Job Talks and beyond, including the Multivariate Organizational Monitor (MOM) for organizational health, and the World of Work (WoW) syndicated study.

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