Where did the severe staffing shortage in Canada come from?
Experts explain that the problem is not only in the lockdown, and offer a way out of the situation.
Statistics Canada is lifting the veil on a question that has plagued thousands of would-be immigrants: Where did Canada's labour market crisis come from?
The study showed an unprecedented level of migration of workers between sectors. This trend affects not only — traditionally — services and catering, but also finance, technology and real estate.
Canadians decided to make a career change at a time when no one else was available to take their former jobs. The unemployment rate is now about 4.9 percent, the lowest level since 1970. Only about 1 million people are considered unemployed, an all-time low since 1981, while the labor force has grown by 61% since then.
The most notable influx of personnel over the past 2-3 years shows the following areas:
- scientific and technical services (19.5%);
- public administration (17.1%);
- finance, insurance and real estate (14.4%).
The information, culture and recreation, and educational services industries showed good results — about 10% each.
At the same time, the data show that 10-14% of employees disappeared from several areas:
- The food and accommodation sector suffered the most (-14.2%);
- services (-12.4%);
- agriculture (-10.7%).
Canada is an equal opportunity country, so experts primarily attribute these changes to the career advacement of residents. This can happen within the same company, but the employee actually moves into a different field of work (for example, a store clerk or janitor becomes a manager).
In addition, a logical reason for the switch could be a marked increase in the hourly rate in the technical services, culture, and recreation sectors. Wages and salaries in agriculture and forestry increased substantially, but they lag far behind, as did those in catering, manufacturing, and retail trade.
Inflation spikes and the inevitable rise in the cost of living are also affecting the labor market, with more workers quitting their jobs in search of places where pay will allow them to cope with rising prices. For this reason, nearly twice as many workers reportedly left their jobs in July as during the same period a year ago, far more than other reported reasons, such as schooling or retirement.
Many young people, faced with a pandemic, have decided to make drastic changes in their lives. There are stories of those who thought about their prospects during the lockdown and realized that their past jobs were not to their liking. Others took advantage of the lockdown to learn a new profession and, once the offices opened, successfully began to build a career. Still others, having lost a significant part of their income — especially in the hotel and restaurant business — looked for more profitable places.
Economists are trying to devise schemes to cope with the crisis.
Brittany Feore, an expert at the Labor Market Information Council, focuses on young people: she believes it is necessary to encourage part-time students by increasing their wages.
Another option is to try to put retirees back to work. Many Canadians retired early due to the pandemic before it ended. Perhaps, as Feore says, they would like to resume work, but are hesitant to do so.
Some experts even believe that the issue of the ratio of the elderly to the young population is the key to the problem.
The post-war baby boom gave Canada more than 400,000 newborns, increasing its population by 20%. And now, as they leave their jobs — off-plan due to lockdown among other things — there are not enough young workers to replace them.
This has led to the fact that for every unemployed person there are as many vacancies that allow him to find a place to his maximum advantage. Economists comment on the consequences:
"People are finding other places to work. There just aren't enough people willing to do poorly paid jobs that are marginal at best."
Ian Lee, an associate professor at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business, agrees with the findings:
"Workers have a lot more choices now. IIf you have more choices and you don't have to work in that industry, you'll go and work in an industry where there's a better career stream and where the wages are higher and the hours are more predictable."
He predicts wage increases in unpopular areas as something employers can lure employees with. Experts believe the problem will worsen: the health care crisis clearly demonstrated what the consequences of inattention to important industries can be. For example, problems in education have been brewing for a long time and could lead to strikes in the fall after the recent announcement of a paltry pay raise:
"We are losing people who are trained as early childhood educators because we won't pay them more than we pay pet groomers. Well why would they stay if they can get a better job in some other sector?"
Both workers and economists are relatively unanimous on what actions could stabilize the situation, now the word is left to the government. BMO Economics, speaking in its report on possible measures by the Bank of Canada, predicts that no dramatic changes are in sight anytime soon, especially in areas where immigrants and young workers cannot fill jobs because of skills mismatches, and sums it up: