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News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

Old Feb 12th 2003, 7:00 am
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Default News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

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The greying of a nation
We're aging which means a looming shortage of workers

OTTAWA (CP) - Canada's workforce is growing so grey that several industries
will be hit with a significant shortage of workers within a decade and
employers will rely almost exclusively on immigrants to fill key jobs,
Statistics Canada said today.
From doctors and nurses, to teachers, plumbers and electricians, a wide
range of occupations will be facing worker shortfalls by 2011 - when almost
one-fifth of Canadian baby boomers will be at least 61 years of age, the
latest census figures suggest.
"I think it's the speed of change that's the issue here," Deborah Sunter,
director of labour statistics for Statistics Canada, said in an interview
"It's much different from what it was 10 years ago, when there were more
young people for every old person in various occupations."
The severity of the projected shortages will depend on how well industries
implement programs aimed at recruiting and retaining younger workers and
immigrants, said Sunter.
The 2001 census gives the most detailed snapshot yet of the Canadian
workforce since 1996 down to the provincial and municipal level. Although
the data is now almost two years old, it is a valuable indicator of future
trends because it foreshadows areas in the job market where shortages loom.
The data showed computer specialists spearheaded growth in the labour force
during the latter half of the '90s with the number of people in
computer-related occupations doubling to more than 406,000 during a surge in
the telecom, computer, technology and related industries. As a spinoff,
there was a huge growth in demand for low-skilled workers such as customer
service and information clerks as call centres sprouted in provinces such as
New Brunswick.
Overall, the most common occupation for men was truck driver when the census
was taken in May 2001, although truckers were outnumbered when all
occupations in information technology were combined. Women were most often
employed in sales and as secretaries.
But by the end of 2000, demand for IT jobs slowed to a crawl as the
technology bubble burst and companies such as Nortel cut tens of thousands
of jobs and put a brake on hiring to cut costs and stay alive.
With billions of new dollars directed toward health care over the next
several years, experts predict plenty of job growth in the medical field.
"There's no doubt whatsoever that is a big area for employment growth," TD
Bank economist Marc Levesque says of the health sector.
Last year alone, of the nearly 560,000 jobs created in Canada, 89,700 of
them - 16 per cent - were in the health care and social assistance field.
In the 1990s, public sector employment was in decline amid cutbacks by
governments trying to clean up their public finances. Rising demand for
medical services from an aging population will create thousands of new
public sector jobs over the next few years.
"And that's something that's not going to be cyclical - it's going to be a
trend," Levesque says.
There will also be more demand for skilled trades in the construction
industry, which last year saw a 7.3-per-cent increase in jobs because of
strong demand for new homes.
But sectors other than health and construction could see worker shortages
over the next decade - especially as more and more workers retire.
Today's figures show the average age of a worker in Canada was 39 in 2001 -
up from 37.1 in 1991 - and about 15 per cent of the 15.6 million people
working in Canada in 2001 were within 10 years of retirement.
There are fewer young people entering the workforce to replace retiring baby
boomers. The census numbers show that in 2001, there was an average of 2.7
entrants to the labour force aged 20-34 for every person over 55 who was on
their way out. In 1981, there were 3.7 entrants for every potential retiree.
Researchers have been warning about potential labour shortages for several
years based on the aging of baby boomers - those born between 1946 and
1964 - and lower fertility rates.
"You've got a labour force which is shrinking - a demographic peeling at the
top," says pollster John Wright of Ispos Reid. "The baby boomers are
starting to retire and it's getting harder to find as many people to replace
Overall, there were 15.6 million people in Canada's labour force as of May
15, 2001, up from 14.2 million a decade earlier. New immigrants picked up
many of the new jobs in Canada - representing 70 per cent of the labour
force growth over the decade.
More immigrants will be needed to fill some of the future job gaps, and if
current immigration rates continue or increase, Statistics Canada says
they'll account for virtually all of the labour force growth by 2011.
The Conference Board of Canada has estimated there could be an overall
worker shortfall of around one million people by 2020.
"Quite a few people will be eligible and maybe take retirement in the next
10 years," says Prem Benimadhu, a Conference Board vice-president. "We've
seen some organizations where 50 to 60 per cent of their people will be
eligible for retirement in the next three to four years."
Benimadhu says that Canada can't simply rely on immigrants to fill job
vacancies in the future, since other countries such as Italy, France and the
United Kingdom are also competing for skilled workers.
William Robson, director of research at the C.D. Howe Institute, says public
sector workers in health and education retire earlier than private-sector
employees, partly because of more generous pension packages. The country
hasn't trained enough of them to replace the retirees, he says.
"Health and education are two of the (occupations) that really do stand out
as a problem," Robson says. "Many of the early baby boomers went into those
fields because the public sector was expanding very rapidly in the '60s and
'70s, and then because we ran into fiscal problems, there was less hiring in
recent years."
The health sector may be in greatest danger of labour shortfalls. Medical
specialists and general practitioners tend to be older than the overall
workforce average and are thus closer to retirement.
In 2001, almost 25 per cent of medical specialists were 55 and over, while
the average age of general practitioners was only slightly younger at 45.2
years. The average age of a nurse in Canada is lower than that of general
practitioners, but is still rising rapidly because there are so few new
entrants to the field. In 1991, there were almost five nurses aged 20-34 for
every nurse aged 55 and over. By 2001, there were fewer than two young
nurses for every nurse 55 and over.
Wright says the lack of supply and rising demand for doctors means they can
be extremely selective about where they want to practise - leaving rural
areas vulnerable to a lack of medical care.
"If you're a doctor and you don't want to go up some place way up north, you
don't have to," he says.
Professors at universities and colleges are also among the oldest groups of
workers - almost 29 per cent of professors were age 55 and over in 2001, up
from 19 per cent in 1991, the census showed.
There are also concerns over shortages of skilled trades for the
construction sector, where there is a relatively large share of older
workers. Plumbers, pipefitters, carpenters and electricians are among the
occupations that have aged most rapidly in the last 10 years.
Benimadhu notes there may be a bias among parents wanting their children to
go to university for training in high-tech and engineering fields at the
expense of the construction and trades sectors - even though some
traditional blue-collar jobs require more technical skills than many
white-collar professions.
"When people think about `highly skilled', they think computer programmers
and software engineers and (information technology) project managers," he
says. "But automotive trades, steel trades, electricians, millwrights, heavy
equipment operators - all those are skills that we will need."
The energy sector alone will require plenty of labourers of all kinds to
continue developing Canada's oil sands.
"We have more oil in the tar sands here then there is in Saudi Arabia and
the U.S. needs that," Benimadhu says of future growth in Canada's oil and
gas sector. He also says the tremendous surge in exports over the last
decade with the United States has required more truck drivers.
Robson says that despite layoffs in the high-tech and telecommunications
industry in the past few years, those sectors will still be among the more
prominent employers of the future as demand for improved computers and
communication devices grows.
"The dot-com bubble bust obviously testifies to people's imagining that
every single company was going to be the next Microsoft. But the demand will
be there," he says.
Robson cautions that while there will be tightness in the labour market,
it's not a crisis that will be apparent right away.
"We still have a few more years - a decade ahead of us - when a lot of
labour trends are very positive," Robson says. "The mass retirements don't
start until the next decade and we've still got the baby boom echo coming
through post-secondary education and will be coming into the workforce."
In the past few decades, employers have benefitted from a significant growth
in the amount of women in the workplace to fulfil new jobs in an expanding
economy. Census data for 2001 shows women accounted for two-thirds of the
1.3 million new workers in the '90s. There were almost 7.3 million women in
Canada's workforce in 2001, up 13.9 per cent from 1991, with women making
inroads in many "non-traditional" areas, particularly in highly skilled
occupations. The number of men working in Canada was 8.3 million, up six per
cent over the decade.
Benimadhu says the female participation rate is beginning to peak. "In the
old days, there was always a pool of female employees (to draw from) because
their participation rate was rather low," he says.
Old Feb 12th 2003, 7:14 am
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Default Re: News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

7.4 unemployment currently in Canada.
Old Feb 12th 2003, 8:23 am
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Default Re: News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

"Aikido251" wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
    > 7.4 unemployment currently in Canada.

I question the unemployment figures. I see tons of jobs everywhere. Want ads
are abundant. Are the people who are "unemployed" only willing to do certain
Old Feb 12th 2003, 8:29 am
Stuart Brook
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Default Re: News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

Aikido251 wrote:
    > 7.4 unemployment currently in Canada.

Have you checked that number with CIC Canada ??? And how would you know
if you're in the UK what it's really like here ? Did you check with CIC
Canada ?
Old Feb 12th 2003, 8:40 am
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Default Re: News: Canadian skilled labour shortage

7.4% was from Statcan, please check to be sure...having said that remember that
figure is for January adjusted meaning taken from December were many temporary
help was needed for holidays, so I believe figure could be higher for February.

    >Subject: Re: News: Canadian skilled labour shortage
    >From: "ColdCathoids" [email protected]
    >Date: 2/12/03 5:23 PM Atlantic Standard Time
    >"Aikido251" wrote in message
    >news:[email protected]...
    >> 7.4 unemployment currently in Canada.
    >I question the unemployment figures. I see tons of jobs everywhere. Want ads
    >are abundant. Are the people who are "unemployed" only willing to do certain

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