March 7, 2008 – Ottawa – Business owners� concern over the shortage of qualified labour hit a record high in 2007, with 309,000 jobs remaining vacant for at least four months, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
One-third of employers had trouble finding employees last year, making it difficult for them to bring their products and services to market and putting growth plans on hold. This can affect the overall economy, as well as individual communities.
�Even with current economic uncertainties, Canadian demographics suggest that the shortage of qualified labour is a problem that is not going to go away anytime soon,� said Garth Whyte, CFIB�s executive vice-president.
CFIB�s latest Help Wanted report showed that the national long-term vacancy rate rose to 4.4 per cent in 2007 from 3.6 per cent in 2006. Saskatchewan reported the highest rate in 2007 at 6.6 per cent, taking the lead from Alberta, where the rate of 6.3 per cent was unchanged from 2006. While Ontario and Quebec had the lowest rates in 2007, they had risen from 2006. The most significant increases in long-term vacancy rates in 2007 occurred in the Atlantic provinces.
By sector, construction had the highest long-term vacancy rate at 6 per cent, followed by hospitality and personal services at 5.9 per cent.
�This is not a Western Canadian problem,� said Whyte. �It is affecting every province and underlines the need for long-term solutions.�
In 2007, 57.4 per cent of small business owners mentioned employee shortages as one of their most significant problems, the highest level since 1989. Concern was highest in Alberta, at 72.5 per cent, and among members in the construction sector, at 70.5 per cent.
While there is no single solution to the shortage of labour issue, CFIB has recommended measures such as tapping into under-represented groups, including immigrants and seniors, as well as better recognizing and encouraging informal training at smaller workplaces.
CFIB is Canada�s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses, representing more than 105,000 business owners who employ 1.25 million Canadians and account for $75 billion in GDP.