Canadian-Born Workforce is Shrinking, Demand for Labour is Growing

As baby boomers retire and birth rates fall, Canada will face a shortage of skilled workers in the coming years.

In 2006, there were 1.9 Canadians aged 20-34 entering the work force for every person aged 55-64 leaving it, according to Statistics Canada. This is down from 2.7 replacement workers for every retiree in 2001 and 3.7 replacement workers for every retiree in 1981.

The Conference Board of Canada predicts a shortfall of 1.2 million skilled workers by 2025 and skilled immigrants, who Statistics Canada predicts will account for all net population growth by 2031, are the best solution to this demographic reality.

While the 2008-2009 recession may affect some of these projections, many sectors and occupations are already reporting skills shortages in a range of industries, including sales and service, trades and business, science, manufacturing and health care.

For example, the 2011 labour market forecast from the Information and Communications Technology Council predicts Canadian employers will need to hire about 106,000 information and communications technology (ICT) workers between 2011 and 2016.

Outlook for Human Resources in the ICT Labour Market, 2011-2016 states employers across the country will encounter systemic shortages in most ICT occupations when recruiting for jobs that require five or more years of experience.

And the Construction Sector Council predicts the industry will need about 320,000 workers between 2011 and 2019 to meet demand for new construction and replace retirees, with a predicted shortfall of about 157,000 workers.

Employers must remove barriers and position themselves to quickly attract and fully engage skilled immigrants in order to make up the labour shortfall.