On June 17, I was formally awarded a $240,000 SSHRC CCSIF research grant to launch what will be the most comprehensive study of its kind about the personal values that motivate individuals across various careers. Job Talks will improve the alignment between high school-aged students and the careers they pursue through post-secondary education. The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minster of Science, attended a ceremony at George Brown College to announce the award winners.

Personal values are the principles and emotions an individual believes are most important in life. As defined by psychologist Milton Rokeach, values are a set of “centrally-held, enduring beliefs which guide actions and judgements across specific situations and beyond immediate goals to more ultimate end-states of existence.”
By studying the values held by groups of individuals (i.e. those in the same industry/field), Job Talks will help high-school-aged Canadians identify a career path founded on more enduring and endearing ideals, rather than a socio-economic rationalization of what makes a job “good.”   
Currently, Job Talks is undertaking a pilot study centred around one of the most misrepresented elements of the Canadian workforce: the skilled trades. After the pilot study is complete, the research team hopes to answer questions like:

  • How do different types of tradespeople (e.g. welders, crane operators, chefs) view their place in society?
  • Are certain types of tradespeople prone to adrenaline-seeking behaviour?
  • Which trades attract the most entrepreneurial individuals?
  • How to tradespeople view post-secondary education?

Addressing questions like these will allow the Job Talks team to then undertake a “re-brand” of the skilled trades. Job Talks will host a website, sharing insights and providing tools that allow visitors to see what trades their own values align well with. A video series of interviews with passionate, driven men and women from various trades will allow visitors to hear directly from tradespeople what their motivations are and why they love their jobs. Ultimately, Job Talks aims to address the shortage of tradespeople in the Canadian labour market with this pilot study by inspiring the next generation of Canadians to look at the trades in a new light.
Looking to the future, Job Talks plans to extend its concept to other fields. Planning is underway for similar research and marketing projects centred on the technology, health care, hospitality, and business sectors. To improve all future iterations of the Job Talks concept, the research team is working to conduct its state-of-the-art survey on the “millennial” cohort, as well as Canadians as a whole.

This overview was written by Job Talks Lead Research Assistant, Benjamin Millard.