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Canadian Employers Need Longer Term Workforce Planning to Stay Competitive

Ottawa, May 18, 2017—Despite the current slack labour market, the greying of Canada’s population means that retirement rates are hitting their peak and critical skill shortages continue to emerge. Already, more than half of Canadian organizations report having difficulties finding workers with critical skills. A new Conference Board of Canada report suggests that Canadian organizations need a longer-term view of the factors affecting their workforce and plan accordingly.

“In a changing economic and demographic landscape, organizations wanting to smooth the resulting disruption need to plan their workforce as a longer term investment, rather than a short-term operational cost to achieve their strategic goals and remain competitive,” said Shannon Jackson, Associate Director, Human Resources Transformation Research.

The report, Workforce Planning Practices in Canada, finds that while workforce planning is a top priority for most Canadian businesses, only 37 per cent of responding companies agree their current business strategy is supported by a workforce plan. The report also provides insights on Canada’s changing business environment, labour force, and demographics, and explores the implications of these trends for Canadian organizations and their workforces.

It shows:

  • Relatively weak economic growth expected for Canada over the four years and tightened labour markets due to retiring baby boomers could impact business investment and salary growth.
  • Organizations need to better prepare for Canada’s aging workforce as retirement rates are expected to rise. In 2016, 243,000 people retired, and in that year, for every net new job created, Canadian organizations had to cover for the loss of 1.8 retirees.
  • More than half of employers report having challenges finding employees with missions-critical or specialized skills. In 2005, Canadian employers reported that it took an average of 40 days to fill vacancies in the technical and skilled trades. This number has now jumped to 60 days. Likewise, the average cost to fill vacancies in the technical and skilled trades was $3,000 in 2005, compared to $5,000 in 2016.
  • Two-thirds of job openings between 2015 and 2024 will be in occupations that usually require post-secondary education. The other third will be in occupations requiring high school or on-the-job training.
  • Women still lag men in workforce participation. In 2016, 74 per cent of women aged 15 to 64 were in the workforce compared to 82 per cent of men.
  • Almost half of new hires are part-time or temporary employees, compared with only 15 per cent of the existing workforce.
  • Longer term approaches to workforce planning are needed to smooth the transition to the digital economy. Currently only 28 per cent of Canadian organizations report a planning horizon of more than two years.

The report is the second in the 2017 HR Trends and Metrics series and focuses on workforce planning practices in Canada. It is available from our e-Library.

Explore the survey results in further detail at a live webinar on June 14, 2017 at 2 p.m. EDT or a workshop on May 31, 2017 in Ottawa.

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Corporate Communications

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