Throw Away Those Lemons, There’s A Labour Shortage Coming


We’ve all seen the numbers. The national unemployment rate in June was 8.6% and some economists expect it to peak at more than 9% before the economy starts to improve. Tens of thousands of jobs are lost in Canada each month. The unemployment rate for us – Canada’s youth – is currently sitting at nearly 16% according to Statistics Canada, the highest it’s been in nearly 11 years.

That’s depressing and all, but there is a glimmer of hope for us yet.

The National Post‘s Financial Post Magazine published an article last Friday entitled, Help desperately wanted. The article highlights that with all the focus on the “Doom and Gloom” news, we seem to have forgotten a very important issue: there’s a labour shortage coming.

It’s something that was discussed a lot in the recruitment industry before the recession, but it seems to have been put on the backburner since then. Although we’ve been reminding everyone about it all along, the economy is starting to show signs of recovery so it’s back on the radar of the mainstream media.

Canada’s low birth rate combined with an aging population will, in a few years, ultimately lead to an unemployment rate of virtually zero.

Some of the shortages are more obvious. Gen Y was encouraged to attend college and university to seek knowledge- and creativity-based careers, so vocations such as skilled trades will be left empty. Provinces such as Saskatchewan, which have seen a rise in productivity recently but maintain small populations, are already trying to attract workers from other provinces and abroad to sustain their economic growth.

Although this is all pretty bad news for companies and governments that need workers, not to mention the overall effect it will have on our economy, it’s very good news for Canada’s post-secondary students and recent grads who are afraid they’ll be unemployed (or underemployed) forever.

Check out some of these very promising numbers from the Financial Post Magazine article:

  • “According to predictions from the Conference Board of Canada, Ontario may face a shortfall of 190,000 workers by 2020, while Quebec may be short 363,000 workers by 2030. The think tank predicts that British Columbia may be in need of 160,000 employees by 2015, while Alberta may have 332,000 unfilled positions by 2025.”
  • Although the national unemployment rate may seem high compared to the last few years, the average annual jobless rate over the past 33 years has been 8.5% – only 0.1% less than what it was last month
  • Creativity-oriented workers, “a diverse group including scientists and technologists, managers and analysts, lawyers and accountants – now have a jobless rate of just 2.7%.”
  • In nursing, the unemployment rate is even lower at 0.6%
  • The number of workers aged 55 to 64 has doubled since 1989, while the number over 65 has increased by 129%

There are plenty of naysayers out there who will tell you this is all wishful thinking – that Baby Boomers are taking longer to retire, the numbers are skewed, all the jobs will go overseas by then – but I don’t think we should pay that much attention to them.

Even during a recession, our knowledge and creativity are highly in demand in certain industries and locations within our own country. We just have to smart about which careers we prepare ourselves for and make changes according to the roles that will be in demand over the next few decades.

About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.