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Apr 26, 2018

'OK Google, find me a job': New job search feature launches in Canada

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Google is wading into Canada's employment market with a new search feature and a $1 million investment into a forthcoming jobs platform.

The technology giant announced Thursday that it had rolled out new search capabilities for Canadian users, allowing job seekers to browse postings that can be filtered by commute distance, job title and time commitment within the Google search engine.

Google also revealed its philanthropic arm will be financially backing Toronto's MaRS innovation hub as it develops an employment platform that will launch next year and aims to help workers navigate the changing job market.

The moves signal Google's growing interest in the employment sector and the expansion of its search functions, which come amid a shift toward the automation of workplaces and increasing pressure on workers to update skills as offices become more technologically-savvy.

Sabrina Geremia, Google Canada's country director, considers the announcement a natural step for the company because "a lot of people turn to Google when they are looking for jobs."

She said she was reminded of just how important enhanced job search tools are when her father uncovered her first resume a few weeks ago. A lot of the skills she trumpeted on the resume are "so different" from what you would see on resumes today because job requirements are changing so dramatically, forcing workers to become "continuous learners."

Geremia said the Employment Pathways Platform that Google and MaRS are partnering on will help with the challenges workers will face because "it is a place for Canadians to go and figure out the skills they are going to need in the future, based on the ones that they have today and how they (can) transition those over time."

Google said the platform will work by helping users "develop a pathway for establishing or transitioning to a new career" and "will pull together data skills and training options from multiple sources and then analyse a user's existing skills and employment preferences against them."

The platform's users will nab a detailed skills assessment, details on potential jobs that align with their abilities and information on institutions that can aid in skills-building.

The first phase will aim to support 10,000 workers, with a focus on young and Indigenous people and others who Google considers to be "particularly vulnerable to shifts in the labour market."

Joe Greenwood, lead executive of data at MaRS, said the platform will also target industries expected to be hit hard by automation -- manufacturing, retail, hospitality and financial services industries -- by using data to predict what the jobs of the future may be and what skills will be needed for those careers.

MaRS and Google hope it will launch next year, but until then will be championing the job search functionality Google brought to Canada on Thursday.

The feature appears within Google's existing search engine, when users type in queries including "jobs near me", "summer jobs", "government jobs", "work from home jobs" or "jobs in Canada".

Once a user searches one of the terms or a similar work-related query, Google will offer webpages it determines are job postings.

It works in tandem with employment sites, including Monster, BC Jobs, LinkedIn, and GlassDoor, to offer a "one-stop shop" for job hunting.

It allows users to save their job searches and set up email notifications to be alerted as soon as new postings appear.

The job search function was first piloted in the U.S. and India.