Last November, Canada’s Labour Force Survey reported an enviable number. The unemployment rate stood at 5.6 percent, the lowest since 1976 when Statistics Canada began collecting comparable data.
Good news, right? For many Canadian businesses, not necessarily. A Bank of Canada Business Outlook Survey reported that 40 percent of firms are experiencing increasing labour shortages. This bodes ill for future economic growth and production, as a dearth of workers stops businesses from expanding, reports Business in Vancouver (BIV). The highest job vacancy rate in metropolitan centres is found in Metro Vancouver at 5.1 percent. Especially hard hit by a lack of workers in the region was construction, food and accommodation services sector and transportation and warehousing, BIV reports.
Interestingly, low unemployment is not causing a rise in wages, a rate that has actually slowed. There are numerous possible reasons for this, including a lack of skills. A Conference Board of Canada Learning and Development report indicates that while spending on skills training has increased since 2012, expenditures in this area are well below the levels of the late 1990s to the early 2000s.
Many small- to medium-size businesses find training too expensive, an indicator that the government has a role to play in ensuring there is adequate investment in skills development, reports The Globe and Mail. This includes not only specific training but literacy and digital literacy programs. ◊