Canada needs more detailed job market data, says watchdog

(Reuters) – Information on job vacancies provided by Canada’s national statistics agency is not detailed enough to be of much use to policymakers and job seekers and could be improved, an official watchdog said in a report on Tuesday.

The report by Auditor-General Michael Ferguson underscored the challenge facing the Conservative government as it tries to tackle what it sees as one of the country’s biggest economic problems: a shortage of skilled labor in some regions and sectors.

Statistics Canada’s (Statscan) job vacancies report provides data on the national and provincial levels only, making it difficult to know which cities and areas are most likely to need workers. The job categories are defined too broadly and are therefore not very helpful, the report said.

“Users informed us that as a result of these shortcomings, available information on job vacancies is of limited value to them,” the report added.

It cited the example of reported job vacancies in the province of Alberta, saying it was impossible to know if they were in Fort McMurray, the main town in the oil sands region in the northern part of the province, or some other town.