News briefs (December 17, 2001)

Toronto — Ontario’s colleges are facing a particularly intense battle with education systems across North America for scarce staff in the next few years. In little more than four years, Ontario’s colleges will need to hire more than 7,000 new faculty and staff. Aside from a surge in retirements many jurisdictions will face, Ontario has the added challenge of an explosion in enrolment of 32,000 students by the year 2006 due to the elimination of the fifth year of high school. It’s predicted more than 4,000 new staff will be needed to cover retirements, but another 3,000 will be needed to cope with all the new students.

Washington, D.C. — While there is concern Canadian employers won’t be ready to deal with a considerable labour shortfall as baby boomers retire, a report from the U.S. General Accounting Office concludes inaction on the part of American employers in preparing for the impending shortage of skilled labour threatens productivity and growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that while the labour force grew at a rate of 1.1 per cent between 1990 and 2000, the rate will drop to 0.7 per cent between 2000 and 2025. By the year 2008, one out of every six workers will be 55 or older, but few employers have formalized programs to encourage older employees to work longer.

Toronto — In an effort to avoid layoffs during tough economic times, Movenpick restaurant employees are being asked to work extra hours now with the promise of company stocks in parent firm Richtree Inc. in the spring, according to a report in the Toronto Star. Under the plan, employees at Richtree will be asked to work an extra 15 per cent of their hours without immediate pay. Instead, earnings will be put into a special trust until May when it will be used to buy stocks at 65 cents each. The stock was trading at around 60 cents late last month. On Tuesdays, the day employees work their extra hours, staff will also wear “Richtree, I love you” buttons.

Brookfield, Wis. — Compensation professionals in the United States continue to be paid more than their benefits counterparts, according to a survey sponsored by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. On average, top compensation executives receive a compensation package of US$133,000 while top benefits execs only take home $129,300, a difference of 2.9 per cent. Meanwhile the gap is slightly larger at the manager level where the average compensation manager makes about $90,000 while the benefits manager’s total cash compensation totals $84,100.

Flin Flon, Man. — A Manitoba court has levied a $150,000 fine — the first issuance of the highest penalty available for a first offence under the province’s four-year-old Workplace Health and Safety Act — against Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting of Flin Flon for a blast that killed one man and injured 13 others. On Aug. 8, 2000, an explosion in a copper smelter, being shutdown for preventive maintenance work, rained molten metal down on the crew working on shutting down its furnace. Labour Minister Becky Barrett called the fine a message workplace safety violations won’t be tolerated.

Toronto — A professional designation for relocation specialists was launched by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council last month. The CERP (Canadian Employee Relocation Professional) designation requires the completion of three levels. For information contact (416) 489-2555.

Toronto — It usually takes two days for an employee to get back up to speed after returning from a vacation, according to a recent survey of Canadian executives conducted by staffing firm OfficeTeam. There are some things employees can do to smooth the return to work after the holidays, said Lesley Gunn a branch manager with OfficeTeam. For example, by changing voice and e-mail messages to indicate the employee is on vacation, people are less likely to leave more than one message. It also helps to plan the first day back and minimize chitchat, waiting to catch-up during lunch. Reliving the vacation only makes it more difficult to get into the groove.

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