CALGARY, June 10 /CNW/ - The classic Alberta story of uber-high growth
rates, demand for labour to work on oil sands projects. The shortage of
skilled labour and tales of companies grappling with staff retention issues is
far from disappearing. Unsurprisingly, Alberta's news headlines often sound
like help-wanted ads; desperate pleas for skilled workers to meet the
province's increasing labour shortage. Stories of workers lured by higher
wages to competing firms will undoubtedly remain. However, not all workers
simply want to 'chase the money'. A strong work culture where people receive
ongoing training, support and guidance is as important as monetary benefits.
Supporting employees as they navigate issues commonly associated with
migrating workers is a key way companies can differentiate themselves and show
commitment to personnel retention and development.
Achieving sustained labour force development and growth requires creative
recruitment and retention strategies, employee education and support services.
Adding to the complexity, the ever-increasing reliance on temporary foreign
workers and immigrants requires specific training and support for those new to
Canada. Developing and maintaining innovative solutions remains necessary to
manage Alberta's ongoing labour issues.
"Alberta is working hard to be recognized as the destination of choice
for skilled workers," explains Barry Munro, Ernst & Young's energy leader in
Canada and Calgary office managing partner. "The forward thinking employers
are ensuring the 'wild west' is becoming a culturally diverse and supportive
society to make the Alberta oil sands successful."
- Government and industry are looking for ways to expedite the admission
process and ease the transition into the work force for foreign
workers. Employees and foreign workers often face several pitfalls,
including lengthy work permit processing times, certification tests
and language barriers.
- Fact: 15,000 foreign workers were destined for Alberta in 2006.
- Compensation issues such as foreign pension contributions,
participation in foreign incentive plans, and possible negative
taxation consequences must be addressed by employers for their foreign
- Fact: Relocating foreign executives requires consideration of
social security, income and employment tax requirements in their
home country and Canada.
- Oil sands players have to be creative when developing and implementing
non-monetary recruitment and retention strategies.
- Fact: Some employers use inclusiveness and cultural training,
language training, financial assistance to obtain mortgages,
education and career support, tuition reimbursements and
subsidized or free daycare.
Ernst & Young's Human Capital group can speak to the issues facing oil
sands players and the innovative solutions that will remain necessary to
manage Alberta's labour issues.
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