A report from CIBC World Markets uncovers labour skills shortages and surpluses in the Canadian job market

We have a situation here the Toronto GTA that is only getting worse. We have a huge a mismatch between the qualifications of people who are looking for jobs and the jobs that are available.

As an IT staffing agency, we’re on the front line of the IT labour skills gap. Every day we get applications from people with impressive experience and solid skills that are having trouble finding a job. In spite of this surplus of highly educated and available talent, we have to search night and day to find the few people with the qualifications that match our clients’ job requirements.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Employers need to accept the value of online training for IT generalists with potential. Employers can invest more in on-the-job training and give great job candidates the opportunity to upgrade their skills.

Job seekers have many inexpensive and free options to upgrade their skills.

Canadian Job Market: A tale of have and have not occupations

It’s not just us. According to Canadian job market increasingly a tale of have and have not occupations: CIBC, we have a surplus of highly skilled people who cannot find jobs. At the same time, many industries are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers.

This skills shortage/labour surplus situation affects the entire Canadian job market across the health-related occupations, the mining industry, advanced manufacturing and business services. According to the report:

  • 30 per cent of businesses indicate that they face a skilled labour shortage, which is double the rate seen in early 2010.
  • job vacancies reported by firms has risen by close to 16 per cent over the past year

“On one hand, jobs go unfilled for long stretches due to a lack of skilled applicants,” says CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal. “In fact, the Prime Minister recently described skills shortages in the Canadian labour market as ‘the biggest challenge our country faces’.

“But on the other end of the labour market spectrum, there is growing evidence that the size of the labour surplus pool is also on the rise. For a number of occupations, employment opportunities are increasingly disappearing. This labour market mismatch is big enough not only to reduce the effectiveness of monetary policy, but also to limit the growth potential of the labour market and the economy as a whole.”

Specialized technology workers are in demand

At Stafflink, we are on the front line of the skills shortage. We see little to no demand for technology generalists. Our clients are looking for technology specialists with very specific skills and experience in a particular industry.

This makes it harder to find people to fit the role. Even worse, it means that some people with years of great technology experience are having trouble find a job because they are missing a few niche skills or they don’t have a particular type of experience.

We received many applications from people who are looking for a job in IT as a network administrator, a quality assurance analyst, or technical support. But very few of those job applicants have all of the “must-have” qualifications for the particular jobs that we are recruiting for at that time. For example, a help desk/document specialist with a legal background. Or a network administrator with five years of experience with Juniper networks and Avaya telephony systems.

Boy surfing on a smart phone - riding the waves of change

You can make a successful career out of riding the waves of change.

Solutions for job seekers: Riding the waves of change

If you are a person with great skills and experience, but you don’t have all of the required skills for a particular job that you want, here are a few ideas to ride the waves of change and land your next job.

  1. Consider your transferable skills and decide what jobs you could do that are in a field with a shortage of workers. Then work towards filling in your skills gap by retraining and updating your skills. Skilledup.com  is a new search engine where you can find options for free and inexpensive online training.. Here are 3 links for free online technology courses from top universities.
  2. If you have the most of the essential job requirements, a company might consider your application if you can convince them that you are working towards getting the missing skills. Use your application email cover letter to explain why they should consider you. See also, Creating an attention-grabbing cover letter.
  3. Networking is really important. If a company is struggling to fill a job, they just might be willing to consider training someone who is enthusiastic about joining the profession, and well on their way to becoming qualified. Go to conferences, attend webinars, read and comment on blogs in the field that you want to break into.
  4. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and up-to-date. Participate in LinkedIn groups that are related to the job you are looking for. Look for groups that the employers you want to work for are part of and become active in those groups. Answer questions. Give code samples. Follow up with a LinkedIn request to connect.
  5. Get help from some of the free employment services that are available for you
Government career services, not-for-profit employment centres and staffing agencies explained

Infographic created by www.stafflink.ca. Stafflink is an IT staffing agency in Toronto, Canada.

25 Occupations Showing Signs of Skills Shortages

  • Managers in Engineering, Architecture, Science & Info Systems
  • Managers in Health, Education, Social and Community Services
  • Managers in Construction and Transportation
  • Auditors, Accountants and Investment Professionals
  • Human Resources and Business Service Professionals
  • Professional Occupations in Natural and Applied Sciences
  • Physical Science Professionals
  • Life Science Professionals
  • Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Chemical Engineers
  • Other Engineers
  • Professional Occupations in Health
  • Physicians, Dentists and Veterinarians
  • Optometrists, Chiropractors and Other Health Diagnosing and
  • Treating Professionals
  • Pharmacists, Dietitians and Nutritionists
  • Therapy and Assessment Professionals
  • Nurse Supervisors and Registered Nurses
  • Technical and Related Occupations in Health
  • Medical Technologists and Technicians (Except Dental Health)
  • Technical Occupations in Dental Health Care
  • Other Technical Occupations In Health Care (Except Dental)
  • Psychologists, Social Workers, Counselors, Clergy and Probation
  • Officers
  • Supervisors, Mining, Oil and Gas
  • >Underground Miners, Oil and Gas Drillers and Related Workers
  • Supervisors in Manufacturing
  • >Supervisors, Processing Occupations

20 Occupations Showing Signs of Labour Surplus

  • Managers in Manufacturing and Utilities
  • Clerical Supervisors
  • Clerical Occupations
  • Clerical Occupations, General Office Skills
  • Office Equipment Operators
  • Finance and Insurance Clerks
  • Mail and Message Distribution Occupations
  • Secondary & Elementary Teachers and Counselors
  • Sales and Service Supervisors
  • Cashiers
  • Occupations in Food and Beverage Services
  • Tour & Recreational Guides and Amusement Occupations
  • Other Attendants in Travel, Accommodation and Recreation
  • Technical Occupations in Personal Service
  • Other Occupations in Personal Service
  • Butchers & Bakers
  • Upholsterers, Tailors, Shoe Repairers, Jewellers and Related Occupations
  • Fishing Vessel Masters and Skippers and Fishermen/Women
  • Machine Operators & Related Workers in Metal and Mineral
  • Products Processing
  • Machine Operators & Related Workers in Pulp & Paper Production and Wood Processing

The complete CIBC World Markets report is available at: http://research.cibcwm.com/economic_public/download/if_2012-1203.pdf