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Why is it so Tough to Hire in the Skilled Trades Right Now?  

Why Is It So Tough to Hire in the Skilled Trades Right Now.

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Hiring is tough right now—especially in the skilled trades. An increasing number of skilled jobs are vacant, and businesses report that they are struggling to find workers to fill them. 

So what’s going on? Tradespeople are vital to some the country’s most critical industries, including construction, mining, manufacturing, and energy. Without a pipeline of qualified skilled workers, these sectors will continue struggling to fill essential operational roles, leading to serious problems down the road. 

What’s causing the skilled labour shortage? 

The skilled labour shortage is a result of various factors, but the primary issues are changes in the demographics of the population and challenges with maintaining the pipeline of new workers. The problems have culminated in an ongoing shortage that is impacting many of the country’s core industries right now. 

One of the most significant issues is the demographic changes resulting from the aging workforce in North America. Baby boomers—who have been driving the economy for decades—are now retiring, leaving a surplus of positions open in every sector. 

The issue is compounded by a shrinking pipeline of new workers. Over the past few decades, the skilled trades have declined in popularity among young people, as high school graduates increasingly choose four-year university degrees over apprenticeships or trades schools. Without more workers entering these industries, the labour shortage is expected to continue and even grow over the next decade. 

How serious is the labour shortage in the skilled trades? 

Is it a blip on the radar, or a major force in the economy? Unfortunately, the skilled labour shortage appears to be here to stay. A report released by Employment and Social Development Canada in 2022 shows that 700,000 skilled trades workers will retire by 2028, causing the shortfall to increase significantly. 

As more tradespeople leave the workforce, it will become critical for industries that require skilled work to attract and retain the younger generation of employees. 

What can companies do to boost recruitment of skilled tradespeople right now? 

The good news is that there are some key actions that companies can take to compete for talent in such a competitive market. 

Strategic partnerships 

At this key inflection point, it’s critical that companies develop targeted recruitment strategies to bring in new talent. Partnering with trades schools, educational institutions, and even high schools to encourage young people to consider a career in the skilled workforce should be a key piece of any business’ strategy, recognizing that young people may need encouragement and more information. 

Career development 

One of the most common requests from skilled workers—especially youth—is that they’re looking for training and development opportunities to help them grow in their career. Employers can differentiate their companies by highlighting the career development, mentorship programs, and on-the-job training they offer. 

Equity, diversity, and inclusion 

To grow the workforce, businesses should consider how they can bring in groups who are currently underrepresented in skilled trades, such as women and immigrants. To combat stereotypes and misperceptions, take extra steps to hire, train, and embrace those who may not normally consider careers in the skilled trades. By embracing equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), companies can unlock a whole new pipeline of potential workers. 

Competitive compensation 

Compensation will always be an essential factor in recruiting and retaining skilled workers. Ensure the pay and benefits package you offer is competitive with the industry standard and reflects the value of the work. 

Change perceptions 

Challenging commonly held views of the skilled trades will be key to recruiting new talent in the coming years. Businesses might consider collaborating with high schools to educate the newest generation on the perks of a career path in these industries. Highlight the job security, high demand, and potential for advancement to entice youth to give trades education a try. 

The bottom line 

One thing is clear: the skilled labour shortage in Canada is still going on, and it seems to be showing no signs of slowing within the next decade. If businesses want to ensure they can fill their open roles with top talent, they must be proactive, enacting new strategies to hire workers.  

Leaders should work with educational institutions to challenge the commonly held perceptions around skilled work and help young people understand the advantages of jobs in the trades. They should also focus on providing key benefits for workers, including competitive compensation and development opportunities. Equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives can not only help to unlock new talent pipelines, but they may help to retain workers in the long term. 

While it’s natural for companies in industries that employ skilled workers to be nervous about the future of recruitment, it’s possible to get ahead by acting now to boost hiring. 

Need support for hiring skilled workers? Created for businesses and staffing agencies, Labourly is a simple, intuitive solution for managing your skilled workforce. Book a demo call now to learn more. 

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