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Service Industries: Much More Than Fast Food

What do fast food servers have in common with firefighters and video game developers? The service industry. See if a service industry career is right for you.

When you think of service industries, you may think of fast food restaurants. Service industries do include occupations like grill cook and cashier, but their scope is much broader and larger than many people imagine. Video game designers work in a service industry. So do firefighters!

Some service industries in Alberta are projected to have a higher than average annual employment growth rate over the next few years—higher than some goods–producing industries. This is an example of a labour market trend that could affect you, especially if you’re planning your education or thinking about a new career direction. Find out how.

What are goods–producing industries?

Many types of goods are made in Alberta, including petroleum and chemical products and pulp and paper products. Agriculture, construction, forestry, manufacturing, mining and oil and gas are goods–producing industries. 

What are service industries?

Here are some examples of service industries and the types of occupations that fall under them.

The accommodation and food services industry includes bartenders, desk clerks, housekeeping attendants, restaurant managers, servers.

The business, building and other support services industry includes business owners, business managers, call centre staff, custodians, landscapers, record keeping staff, remediation services staff, security guards, tour operators, travel agents and waste collectors.

The educational services industry includes educational counsellors, professors, teachers and teacher assistants.

The finance, insurance, real estate, leasing industry includes bank and credit union staff, financial analysts, financial planners, insurance adjusters, insurance agents, mortgage and loan brokers, pension fund managers, property managers, real estate agents and securities dealers.

The health care and social assistance industry includes chiropractors, dentists, doctors, nurses and other health practitioners, day care workers, emergency medical technicians, relief services workers, social workers and youth workers.

The information, culture and recreation industry includes designers, editors, performing artists, producers, publishers, technicians, writers in all media, archivists, librarians, museum curators, reporters, professional athletes, recreation facility staff and operators and telecommunications, Internet and information services staff.

The professional, scientific and technical services industry includes accountants, advertising and public relations consultants, architects, cartographers, civil engineers, industrial designers, graphic designers, lawyers and legal workers, research and development scientists, scientific and technical consultants, surveyors and translators.

The public administration industry includes correctional officers, customs inspectors, firefighters, judges, occupational health and safety inspectors, and police officers.

The transportation and warehousing industry includes pilots, taxi drivers, truck drivers and warehousing professionals.

The wholesale trade industry includes agents, brokers and wholesale distributors of goods such as farm products, petroleum products, food and beverage products, building materials and supplies, machinery and equipment.

Other service industries include automotive service technicians, funeral home operators, jewellers, machinery and equipment repair and maintenance technicians, and personal service providers such as hair stylists, estheticians, massage therapists and pet care providers.

How might the increasing opportunities in Alberta's service industries affect me?

Labour market trends such as growth predictions for specific industries often make the news. Whether or not such trends will offer opportunities—and whether or not these opportunities will affect you—depends on a number of factors. 
The impact depends on growth rates in the specific industries that interest you, the size of those industries in your community and typical employment turnover rates for the types of work that interest you.

Asking questions and doing some research will help you better understand how labour market trends could affect your career and education choices. The answers to the following questions will give you a good start.

  1. Are there exceptions to the trend of increasing employment opportunities in the service industries?

    Yes! Before making plans based on any trend, do some research and talk to people who know about industries that interest you. You may find that, in your community, some goods–producing industries are growing faster than some service industries.

  2. Industry growth can be important. But what other factors affect work opportunities in an industry?

    Industry size and employee turnover rate—the rate of people leaving existing positions—are just as important as industry growth in determining job openings in an industry. One example of this is the retail trade industry. Although the retail trade isn’t growing as fast as the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing industries, the retail trade industry often has more job openings. That’s because this industry employs more people than the finance, insurance, real estate and leasing industry. Also, some types of work in the retail trade industry have high employee turnover rates. 

    Here are some other examples of how industry size and the employee turnover rate can affect the number of job openings:

    • If there are 50,000 people employed in an industry that’s growing at a below average rate (for example, 1%), there will probably be about 500 new jobs created in that industry each year. That’s in addition to job vacancies created when people leave existing positions. In some industries, the average employee turnover rate is as high as 30%. In such an industry, employee turnover alone would create 15,000 job openings each year. The total number of job openings in that industry could be as high as 15,500 each year.

    • If there are 5,000 people employed in an industry that’s growing at an above average rate (for example, 10%), there will be about 500 new jobs created in that industry each year. Even if the average employee turnover rate is as high as 30%, only 1,500 job openings would be created by employee turnover. The total number of job openings each year would be about 2,000—a fraction of the number created in a slower growing but larger industry.

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