Why do jobs change over time?

In 2013, an average of almost seven million Ontarians were working in hundreds of different occupations – health care professionals, web designers, engineers, financial analysts, technicians, plumbers, machinists or chefs, just to name a few. Whether working full- or part-time, for a company or self-employed, the labour market offers a wide variety of career choices.

Over time, however, the number and types of jobs available to workers can change for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common:

Economic growth: A growing economy means more people are working and have more money to spend. Having more customers, in turn, encourages businesses to expand. In the same way, more international trade with customers in other countries also causes business to grow. As a result, new jobs are created in many different occupations.

Technology: Changes in technology can affect both the types of jobs available and the skills that are needed. Computers, for example, have increased the need for software engineers and systems analysts in the workplace, but have also reduced the demand for secretaries and clerks. New technologies can create brand new occupations as well. For example, the growth of the Internet gave birth to the web page designer.

Demographics: Changes in the makeup of the population – such as age, gender and cultural background – can affect the demand for various kinds of skills. A younger population needs more schools and therefore more teachers. An older population requires more health services and therefore more doctors and nurses. In some occupations, there may be many older workers who will retire soon, and create new job opportunities.

Consumer behaviour: People's needs change over time depending on how much money they have, their changing tastes and the amount of leisure time they have. For example, ecotourism is a relatively recent development. Growth in tourist attractions and accommodations has created many jobs in a large number of occupations such as hotel clerks, managers, tour guides, and recreation consultants.