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.

[UPDATE] Succession Planning: Is your business ready for the ‘Boom’?

The above trends are continuing according to more recent Statistics Canada data, and the skills gap is worsening. Last year was the first time in Canada where the population was made up of more people over the age of 65 than under 15. This demographic shift has serious implications for the economy, and the reality of an aging workforce, means succession planning is becoming more and more important for businesses. The retirement of baby-boomers will not only result in labour shortages, but skills shortages; recent graduates will not have the expertise, knowledge and experience of these retiring senior level staff.

Highly-skilled Immigrants: Untapped Potential
Canada welcomes the best and brightest from around the world through its immigration programs. Highly-skilled immigrants bring with them the qualifications, experience and technical skills necessary for many of the senior-level positions that will be vacant with the retirement of the boomers. Identifying and investing in future leaders has become critical for organizations as part of a long-term approach to talent management and minimizing internal skills gaps. Increasing your skills in, and comfort with, assessing international credentials will position your organization well with an increasingly immigrant-inclusive workforce for years to come.

Here are a few considerations and resources to help:

(1) Understanding and assessing foreign credentials and experience is a necessary skill to effectively leverage the talented immigrants in Canada. Please read the interview conducted with World Education Services to learn more about how to better prepare for hiring highly-skilled immigrants.

(2) In regulated professions where licensure is required, consider hiring skilled immigrants at an associate level until their licensure requirements are met and they can be employed fully at the appropriate level. Career maps describe the steps your skilled immigrant employees can take to obtain license and certification.

(3) A greater potential for success lies in where you advertise you job postings. Marketing your job openings more directly to skilled immigrants will increase accessing the talented individuals for your positions. The Magnet platform allows you to create a job posting, and select candidates from specific diversity categories you would like to be matched with, including newcomers. Watch this video for more information, and create an employer profile today.

Hire Immigrants: Start Connecting to Talent Today

Magnet, Ryerson University in partnership with Hire Immigrants produced this article. The article is made possible with the funding from the Government of Ontario.