The labour issues hitting businesses across the country didn’t start with the pandemic, but it did accelerate the problem to a point where it’s one of the biggest issues holding back economic growth.
According to a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC):
Lack of access to a workforce with the right skills is holding back businesses and hiring difficulties increase in smaller communities.
Nationally, unemployment has fallen to 5.2%.
Our economy is bouncing back, but that’s putting further strain on business’ ability to hire. Projections range on when things will return “back to normal,” but we can say with confidence these challenges aren’t going away in the short term.
These issues were decades in the making, but ultimately what is important is finding our path forward.
What businesses are doing according to BDC:
BDC notes Increasing diversity and flexibility are important for business growth, including three key areas: youth, immigrants, and older workers. Immigration in Canada slowed to a crawl through the pandemic. Both youth and immigrants bring skills and a willingness to grow and develop. BDC recommends offering more opportunities to youth and immigrants as a way to make better use of our workforce.
When it comes to older workers, we need to address flexibility. They have an incredible set of skills and experience that our economy has relied on for years. Workers approaching retirement may no longer be interested in working full-time hours, but could open to part-time and hybrid options.
More and more businesses are turning to automation as a way to streamline business. For most businesses, it’s not a case of a robot replacing a staff member — it’s all the small things adding up to a more efficient process. Examples include:
Businesses can further streamline by adopting new technology like updated email systems, shared digital calendars, and cloud-based workflow systems.
There’s no single solution that’s going to answer our workforce challenges. The local business community has shown its ability to adapt, pivot, and invest in new technology. The challenges facing businesses continue to change, but our economy is growing and to grow with it businesses need to be open and flexible to growing their workforce.