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What are the most recession-proof industries and jobs?

For months, experts have debated whether Canada is headed toward a recession. Some believe that the country has skipped a recession, while others still fear that a recession is looming on the horizon.

Either way, it’s worth being prepared so you’re not caught off-guard.

Today, I’ll share some of the most recession-proof jobs and industries. I’ll also outline some skills that anybody can start developing to ensure that they’re not left behind if the country does descend into a recession.

WHAT IS A RECESSION-PROOF JOB?

During a recession, the economy contracts, leading to decreased consumer spending across the board.

Job loss and unemployment are some of the key identifying factors of a recession and are also some of the most hard-felt consequences experienced by the general public.

As the demand for goods and services falls, many industries must lay off workers to remain in business. These workers, in turn, must reduce their own spending as they rely on their savings and emergency funds to make it through hard times.

So-called recession-proof jobs and industries are the ones in which workers have the greatest job security, which can be a huge advantage during times of economic contraction.

Recession-proof jobs and industries typically:

  • Cater to universal needs (such as food, health care, and education)
  • Cater to everyday societal functions (such as the post and public works)
  • Save consumers time (professional services such as accounting or tax preparation)

For example, during the 2020 pandemic, “essential workers” such as health-care professionals and grocery store employees were generally laid off less than those working in restaurant and retail sectors due to continued demand for their services. On the other hand, Restaurants Canada reported that over 800,000 restaurant workers lost their jobs during the pandemic.

RECESSION-PROOF JOBS AND INDUSTRIES

Although no job is completely recession-proof, certain careers offer greater job security than others, especially during economic uncertainty or crisis. Here are some of the most recession-proof jobs to find work in if the country ends up heading into a recession.

1. Education services

Although a recession can limit the funding that schools can devote toward extracurricular activities, the country will continue investing in the future by providing funding for education through federal and provincial means.

An education-related career doesn’t just refer to teaching at a school or university.

Daycare workers, social workers, tutors, and online educators will remain a necessary part of society.

2. Government services

Government jobs are typically associated with high levels of job security. This is especially true for positions that relate to public services and law enforcement. For example, local governments will always need patrol officers, and the federal government will always need tax officials, EI administrators, and other vital employees.

3. Health care

Canadians can receive free public health care thanks to the country’s universal health-care system. This ensures job security for doctors, specialists, nurses, technicians, secretaries, and even custodial workers employed by the public healthcare system.

This job security may not carry over to certain specialized care offered by private health-care providers, especially in non-essential fields such as cosmetic surgery.

4. Utility services

No matter how bad a recession gets, Canadians need reliable access to electricity, gas, water, and the internet. Those working for utility companies that install, maintain, and repair these services generally have high job security.

5. Tax and accounting services

In 2022, the CRA processed more than 30 million tax returns. While some of these are filed individually using free tax-filing software, many Canadians rely on tax preparers and accountants to file their taxes.

During a recession, these professional financial services are actually more valuable, as they may allow Canadians to pay less taxes or get a bigger refund, saving them money and helping them through tough economic times.

RECESSION-PROOF SKILLS TO HONE

Aside from individual careers and industries, developing key skills can make you a more valuable employee or allow you greater mobility if you need to find a new job. Here are a few recession-proof skills that can improve your job security, regardless of your field.

Adaptability

Even recession-proof industries can experience significant changes during a recession. As an employee, your ability to adapt to changing circumstances, go with the flow, and remain positive is paramount to your continued success.

For example, teachers who were already familiar with online education platforms likely found it easier to adapt to the switch to online classrooms during the pandemic.

Communication

Whether you’re in sales, customer service, work for the government, or provide a professional service, your ability to communicate will serve you well. The better you can communicate, the more others will respect and value you, which can help you keep your job or even find better opportunities during an economic downturn.

Leadership

During times of economic uncertainty, strong leaders who can motivate their teams are an invaluable resource. They keep company morale strong and can allow a business to stay afloat during hard times. Whether you own your own small business or participate in a management role for another company, it’s never a bad idea to touch up on your leadership skills.

Technology

The tech field has changed immensely in recent months with the advent of artificial intelligence. For example, many companies could potentially lay off workers who can be replaced with AI applications. The flip side of this is that there will always be a need for professionals who understand how to use AI to their advantage.

Those who can learn and incorporate the latest technology into their careers generally have more security than those who choose to resist new changes.

SHOULD YOU CHANGE JOBS?

You don’t always need to change your career to stay employed during a recession. However, it is important to develop universal skills such as communication and remain adaptable to changing economic conditions.

If you’re unsure how recession-proof your current position is, consider developing and learning new skills that can be transferred to other fields with greater job security. Even if you don’t end up having to find a new position, these skills can help you grow in your current field.

Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder and former financial advisor. He writes personal finance tips for thousands of daily Canadian readers on his Wealth Awesome website.

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