According to Statistics Canada’s June Labour Report, we’ve reached yet another historic low for the unemployment rate – 4.9%. That means there were just over one million Canadians collecting EI last month and just under one million job vacancies. Once again, the labour report reminds us that we need more workers to keep our country’s economy working. There are a number of factors driving the labour shortage, and if we want to have meaningful impact fixing the Canadian labour shortage, then we need to start adapting our recruitment and retention strategies now.
There are nearly more jobs available than there are people to fill them. Prior to the pandemic, the national average of unemployment-to-job vacancy ratio was nearly 3 unemployed people per job vacancy. Now there are only 1.4 unemployed people per job vacancy, which indicates just how few people there are available to fill these roles in Canada.
A recent survey by the Business Council of Canada (BCC) found that more than half the companies surveyed have adjusted timelines for projects due to a lack of skilled workers and are grappling with lost revenues. With Canadian productivity and growth lagging behind our global peers, postponing invaluable work is not an option. The BCC also found that 30% of the companies surveyed are relocating work outside of Canada to complete projects, which is bad news for our domestic economy.
1. Make your equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives mean something
We can’t stress enough how important it is for organizations to put meaningful effort into their equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) initiatives. Some organizations are still treating EDI initiatives as a check box to pat themselves on the back, instead of taking the time to truly value diversity of thought and perspectives within their organization.
Despite the fact that the importance of EDI initiatives has been in the spotlight in recent years, and although studies show more diverse companies typically have better financial performance than their less diverse counterparts – meaningful progress in this area has been slow.
Instead there has been a major rise of tokenism within corporations worldwide. Tokenism at work is, “the exploitation of someone’s identity in order to check a diversity box.” Essentially, tokenism is diversity sans equity and inclusion. When the only thing that matters to your company is hiring someone based on their gender identity, skin colour, country of origin, or physical ability then you’re telling your employees you don’t really care about their equity or inclusion within your organization – they’re just there to check a box.
This tokenism may even be unintentional, many well-meaning businesses have made this mistake one time or another. While we can’t change the past, we can always make the future better. By bringing EDI initiatives to the forefront of your Employee Value Proposition you can help reduce imposter syndrome, increase psychological safety, and reinvigorate your team.
2. Adjust your recruiting focus from specific hard skills to transferable and soft skills
Focusing on specific hard skills over transferable and soft skills is a luxury hiring managers had when the employment market had a deep labour pool to choose from. This is no longer the case, and with so many people re-evaluating their career choices many job seekers just don’t have the hard skills employers are looking for.
The value of hard skills? They’re easily teachable, demonstrative and quantifiable, especially when paired with the appropriate transferable skills. In a tight labour market, employers may not be able to find an exact match in hard and soft skills for the positions they are hiring for. Successful employers understand the available talent pool and practice creative problem solving. They know the value of transferable skills and which ones can adapt with their talent skill gaps and through additional training. If you want to have a winning team you’ll need to embrace the fact that onboarding is going to take a bit longer and be a bit more expensive than it used to be.
Looking to beef up your transferable and soft skills? Check out our blog on the top ten transferable skills employers are focusing on in 2022. Or get a little more in depth with our blog posts on empathy, creativity, and critical thinking.
3. Join the reskilling revolution
You have a ton of untapped talent available within your existing workforce, and most companies aren’t utilizing it. This is mostly due to the prevalence of a “fixed” vs “growth” mindset found in many organizations. However, the tide is turning as more organizations recognize the importance of investing more in learning and development programs.
Employees want the opportunity to learn new skills to grow their careers and maximize career security within a dynamic and evolving work force. According to a 2021 survey by PWC, 77% of workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain. This desire to learn has made its way to the forefront of company culture in recent years as well. Opportunities to learn and grow was ranked the number one driver of great work culture in LinkedIn’s 2022 Workforce Learning Report. A significant change from just two years earlier where it had previously ranked ninth in their 2019 report.
It can be challenging for workers to take on learning opportunities in addition to regular work and personal responsibilities, which is why ultimately reskilling is a shared responsibility. Wondering where to get started? If you’re looking to start reskilling yourself check out our blog on upskilling resources.
Adapting to the Labour Shortage in Canada
For several months, Statistics Canada’s Labour Report has consistently reported a very tight labour report. This is unlikely to change quickly — even if an economic slowdown is realised. Therefore, understanding the Canadian labour market and where your business is at risk is an important regular practice. To remain competitive in the talent market, employers must keep their employee value propositions fresh and focus heavily on attraction and retention. Looking for more ways to adapt to the current talent squeeze? Download our free document on how to win at retention and attraction.