CALGARY — A new report on Canada’s job market indicates 30 per cent of the country’s businesses face a skilled labour shortage, which is double the rate seen in early 2010.
And the issue is more acute in Alberta.
The report, released Monday by CIBC World Markets, also said Canada’s job market shows a growing divide between have and have not occupations.
“Obviously when you look at the occupations you can see where Alberta is missing. It’s really things that are related to the oilsands. Engineers. Heavy machinery operators. The mining industry,” said Benjamin Tal, the CIBC’s deputy chief economist. “Those kind of occupations definitely you see it in Alberta (for shortages). Also, if you look at the rate of (job) vacancies relative to unemployment, you can see it is the highest in Alberta.
“Clearly this is an issue that is slowing down the ability of Alberta to grow . . . I think that if there is a problem, clearly it is in Alberta.”
He said the survey indicating 30 per cent of Canadian businesses face a skilled labour shortage would be higher in Alberta.
The largest skill shortage was found in health-related occupations, the mining industry, advanced manufacturing and business services. Put together, those occupations account for 21 per cent of total employment in Canada.
“One-fifth of the Canadian labour market is currently showing signs of skilled labour shortage,” said Tal, adding that in Alberta it would be higher. “The average unemployment rate of this pool of occupations is just over one per cent and their wages are now rising by an average annual rate of 3.9 per cent — more than double the rate seen in the economy as a whole.
“Overall employment in this group is rising by 2.1 per cent — much faster than the speed seen in the rest of the market, but obviously not fast enough to dent the labour market skill scarcity. In this context, the recently announced government plans to admit between 53,000 and 55,000 new Canadians in 2013 through an overhauled federal skilled worker program is a welcome development. However, it’s simply not large enough to turn things around. Ditto for the increased focus on apprenticeship as a possible solution to the chronic shortage in skilled trades. Despite recent program improvements, the number of certificates granted to apprentices is still a fraction of the overall size of the skilled trades labour pool.”
According to a recent survey commissioned by DeVry Institute of Technology, 86 per cent of Albertans believe that a shortage of technology workers would have a negative effect on Alberta’s overall labour market and economy. Such an impact could jeopardize the province’s employment rate, which continues to be highest in the country, said DeVry.
“We’re already starting to see the impact of a skilled IT worker shortage here in Alberta,” said Jonathan Nituch, vice-president of operations at Fortress Technology Planners. “Not enough Albertans are choosing Information Technology as a career path, which is leaving unfilled employment opportunities that are critical to economic growth.”
Recently, another report, from Hays, an international recruitment consultancy and Oxford Economics, said Canada is suffering from chronic skills shortages that will simultaneously drive up job vacancies and unemployment if left unchecked. But the report also said that Canada has the necessary framework to create the next generation of Canadian talent and successfully feed the candidate pipeline and bring down unemployment.
“The skills shortage is unfortunately a fact of life for many employers but Canada has the fundamentals in place to relieve the pressure in the medium term. Our path to success relies on our will to get it done,” said Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada. “It will take genuine collaboration between business leaders, academics and the government to push for a change in how we collectively approach our labour challenges.”
DECEMBER 3, 2012