addressing the skills gap continues to be top of mind with Canadian workers, according to a survey released by Randstad Canada. More than nine in 10 (91.2 per cent) of working Canadians said they feel the skills shortage/skills gap will continue to be an issue of importance in Canada in 2014.
A lack of skilled trades workers (16.3 per cent), outsourcing of jobs or increases in numbers of international workers (15.2 per cent) and a lack of skilled workers overall (9.9 per cent) are the biggest issues organizations are facing in 2014. Those in the Prairies (23.2 per cent) and Alberta (21.6 per cent) are most likely to feel that a lack of skilled trades workers is the single biggest issue in 2014, found the survey of 2,076 employees and managers.
"What we are seeing here is reflective of what we've seen in the field throughout the past year — organizations in the industrial and technical sectors are struggling to find highly skilled candidates," says Tom Turpin, president of Randstad Canada. "This is especially true in the West, where oil & gas projects are booming, and in Quebec where we see growth in the IT and aerospace fields".
Skilled trades: the most promising industry for Canadians
Skilled trades is the area in which most Canadians see the greatest job opportunities for 2014. Nearly one-half (44.7 per cent) see skilled trades as one of the top three industries for job opportunities in the coming year, with nearly one in four (23.8 per cent) seeing it as the single best industry for opportunities in the coming year. Health care (38.2 per cent), oil and gas (33.9 per cent), technology (26.9 per cent), and engineering and construction (25.2 per cent) are also amongst the top five for opportunities based on the opinions of those polled.
Industry sectors such as not-for-profit, academia, arts, entertainment and recreation, consumer packaged goods, and security are the areas that the majority of respondents believed provided the least amount of opportunity in 2014, said the Randstad Canada Labour Trends Study 2014.
Additionally, three in 10 (28.9 per cent) respondents see trades skills (such as plumbing or electrical) as the most in-demand skill set today. This is especially true west of Ontario and east of Quebec, signalling high demand on both coasts for skilled trades workers.
Are organizations doing enough to address the skills gaps?
Workers believe the responsibility to properly address the issue of the skills gap/shortage lies with companies, governments and educators. Promotion, compensation and investment in skills training are critical to properly address the issue of the skills gap/shortage in both the short and long term, found Randstad.
Four out of 10 said companies need to invest more in skills training for employees (40 per cent), with another 38 per cent saying educators need to do more to promote to students industries and job roles that are likely to lead to careers addressing the skills shortage/gap.
One in three (32.9 per cent) think governments need to invest more in skills training for unemployed and underemployed workers, with one-quarter (25.7 per cent) also believing governments need to provide better incentives for workers to move into positions that address the skills shortage/gap.
Workers believe education and perception are the core reasons that have led to today's skills shortage. Four in five (79 per cent) respondents stated they feel a lack of knowledge in skilled trades has led to fewer Canadians considering them a career option, while more than three-quarters (76.6 per cent) felt that a perception of skilled trade work being less respected and more old-fashioned in comparison to “white collar” work has led to less interest for Canadians desiring these types of roles.
More than one-third of those polled said that they would consider pursuing a career in skilled trades if there were good immediate and long-term job prospects (37 per cent) or if they presented better long-term job security than other fields (34.8 per cent). Additionally, nearly one-third (31.8 per cent) said training programs readily available to help transition or begin in the field would entice them to pursue a career in skilled trades, found Randstad.
"There is still a lot to be done to change perceived negative perceptions around skilled trades. Everyone, from organizations to schools, governments and placement agencies like us, need to do more to promote careers in skilled trades," said Turpin. “As companies use more sophisticated equipment and technologies, they need workers with specialized technical skills — and this translates into higher salaries. The opportunities are there for young Canadians who are open to a different academic and career path, and for organizations who are willing to invest in training and developing them through apprenticeships.”
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