Canada’s skilled labour shortage: What does it mean for workers and employers?

posted on October 9, 2019

By CTV News |

Experts say Canada is in the midst of a skilled labour shortage – and it’s limiting the growth of businesses. According to a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada, 53 per cent of small-and medium-sized enterprises say the labour shortage will cause them to limit business investment. 

A labour market expert argues that, for “far too long,” companies have used education as a measure of skill. But Steven Tobin, executive director of the Labour Market Information Council in Ottawa says that’s changing.

“Skills and education are not the same thing,” Tobin told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.

There’s also a distinct difference between a labour shortage and a skilled-labour shortage, he says.

Labour shortages suggest that people need to become certified for new jobs.

“A skills shortage is when you advertise a position, you have a lot of applicants, but then you deem that none of those applicants have the skills to really perform the tasks you have in mind,” said Tobin.

He argues there is a need for more methods that can capture both the demand for and supply of workers’ skills.

In a 2018 survey by ManpowerGroup, 41 per cent of Canadian employers reported difficulty filling jobs. The survey also found that the most in-demand jobs require post-secondary training, but not necessarily a university degree.

Skilled trade workers such as welders, mechanics or electricians have been among the top five hardest roles to fill in Canada for the last ten years. Sales representatives, drivers, engineers and technicians are also on the list.

“We need more foundational work to understand what a skill is and how that complements education,” said Tobin.

Read more