Labour shortages cited for highly skilled positions: survey
Nearly one-third of employers expect their workforce numbers to remain below pre-pandemic levels for at least the next 12 months — or to never fully recover, according to a survey by the Bank of Canada.
“There are indications the pace of the recovery will slow and be uneven across industries.”
Nearly half of firms also report that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program has helped them reduce or avoid layoffs or refill positions quickly, found the survey of about 100 firms from Aug. 24 to Sept. 16.
In July, federal government extended the CEWS program until December but the government recently announced it is considering extending that deadline to June 2021, including possible changes to the rates and top-up calculation.
With an improvement in demand since the summer, reports of binding labour shortages have increased, largely in Central Canada, finds the Bank of Canada.
“However, most businesses did not indicate broad-based tightness. For instance, labour shortages were often related to highly skilled positions (e.g., experienced engineers, specialized technicians).”
In September, ManpowerGroup reported that employers’ net employment outlook for the fourth quarter of 2020 stands at +6 per cent, 15 percentage points higher than the -10 per cent for the third quarter. This, however, is still six percentage points below the same time last year.
Employment in Canada decreased by 240,800 jobs from August to September, according to ADP. This is in contrast to Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey which said that Canada’s employment numbers rose 378,200 (2.1 per cent) in September.
Expectations that wage growth will slow over the next 12 months are widespread, according to the Bank of Canada report.
“Most businesses reporting softer wage growth referred to negative impacts from the pandemic and continued uncertainty. Some firms are freezing wages. Businesses expecting to increase wages at a greater rate compared with the past 12 months are doing so to attract and retain workers,” says the Bank of Canada.
More than three in 10 (36 per cent) of Canadian organizations froze salaries in 2020, compared to a pre-COVID forecast of just two per cent, and this trend is likely to hold true for the coming year, according to a separate survey.
The average pay increase for non-unionized employees in Canada is projected to be 2.1 per cent next year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.