25 Jun


Posted by Brad Holtkamp

After being stifled with economic downturn for close to two years, Canada’s economy made an impressive comeback in 2017. Riding on this turnaround, unemployment rates in Canada have plummeted to record lows – paving the way for job opportunities for experienced as well as fresh out of college graduates alike.

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This impressive growth has also led to severe shortage of skilled workers across Canada. Employers are desperately looking for quality candidates to fill in positions and ride on the wave of economic growth, but they are nowhere to be found. It is conundrum to tackle – with the different types of jobs available in an economy on the upswing, there is a dearth of skilled labour. Employers want to expand their businesses, but are finding it difficult to locate the talent that will carry their vision forward.

We look into some reasons that lead to labour shortage – and how to ensure your business does not suffer from one.


An Aging Workforce

For starters, Canada’s population is getting older. Baby boomers, who seemed so recently to comprise a massive chunk of the North American workforce, are fast entering retirement age, and in the next fifteen years that problem will peak. A recent study conducted by Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters found that over the next 10 years, 22% of their workforce will have to be replaced due to retirement. British Columbia is in need of nearly 88,000 by 2020 in order to address labor shortage in manufacturing sector alone.


Shortage of Apt Skills 

According to a recent report by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, a shortage of skills was a critical economic challenge impacting Canada’s productivity and global competitiveness. The Association of Community Colleges reports that only the construction sector in Canada will need 26,000 new workers in the next eight years. Mining is going to report a labour shortage close to 2 million workers in by 2030.


Losing the Skill When You Lose the Labor

Another reason employers find them stopped in their tracks is when experienced employees leave, companies don’t just lose a resource – they lose a skill-set which had been honed to suit the company’s needs. Take the case of an IT project manager – one of the most sought-after job roles in Canada. When a project manager leaves, not only does a company loses a resource, this also breaks the seamless business cycle the project manager had put in motion with his team. This is true not only in IT, but across different types of engineering jobs as well.

This makes all the more reason for employers to build deep relations with their employees – often outside of work, so that every employee feels an integral part of the organization he is working for.

Currently, many skilled employees will become advisors and consultants after they retire to help younger workers learn the ropes. This is extremely important, and manufacturing companies should certainly be contemplating how to integrate this now for the years to come. But it alone is not enough to create a stable, permanent method of intuitively initiating new workers.


Going Digital

Here’s where systems such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) come into the conversation. ERP is a type of software, which manages business data as a means to organize, categorize, and retain important procedures outside your worker’s brain.

ERP software used by manufacturers helps to standardize (and in some cases automate) the organization of information, including accounting systems, schedules, supply trackers, costing, and transactions—meaning everybody is coming to the technology table with the same lingua franca.


Apprenticeships and Staffing Firms

Of course, another potential way to groom a soon-to-be-needed generation of manufacturing pros is to start them off any way we can now. Apprenticeships and staffing firms make this possible in some scenarios. 

As we’ve discussed, the shortage the manufacturing industry faces now (as well as related industries that pour in and out of it) doesn’t have exactly the same root causes as the shortage it may be facing in ten or so years.

It’s tough to hire any young labourers for long-term work these days when the need for such work has dwindled, but soon companies will be desperate to hire anybody they can. 

If aspiring manufacturers can be given short-term roles (which staffing agencies allow), small, trainee roles, or even internships, they can begin cultivating the skills necessary to be genuine, skilled labourers once the baby boomer generation makes its sweeping departure.

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Brad Holtkamp

Brad brings 15 years of Canadian and international staffing industry experience to his role as vice president, Western Canada. He’s an HRIA and TEC Canada member and has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Saskatchewan. Brad has significant experience providing staffing solutions for customers, with specific expertise in permanent search, contract recruitment, and payroll delivery. With a love of sports and the outdoors, Brad can often be found in a rink, on a bike, or in the mountains with his wife and two daughters.

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