Quebec Employers Council survey shows most Quebec companies are set to tackle the challenge of access to a skilled labour force

MONTREAL, Jan. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Overcoming the challenge posed by being able to access a skilled labour force in the coming years would seem to be one of the major factors in business success according to a survey of 350 company managers which Léger Marketing conducted for the Quebec Employers Council, the province's largest employers' association.

The results of the survey indicate most Québec companies are ready to support a number of recommendations aimed at improving job training, encouraging the integration of immigrant workers into the workplace, and retaining experienced workers aged 55 and older. The managers also express their desire, in the survey, to invest in their own company and thereby help create the conditions in Québec that are needed for the emergence of a more prosperous society.

"As the Québec government prepares to hold a series of consultations in 2011 on the issues related to the availability of skilled labour, the results of this survey allow us to provide avenues of thought and constructive solutions in light of the employers' position on these questions," remarked Yves-Thomas Dorval, the president of the Quebec Employers Council.

Improving training and access to the job market

In response to the series of recommendations submitted to them, almost all (94%) of the company managers say they agree with the suggestion that every training program (professional, technical or university) must be combined, whenever possible, with a business internship course. On the other hand, 88% of those surveyed say they are willing to have interns in their company, a ratio that increases to 97% for companies with 100 to 249 employees and to 100% for companies with 250 or more employees. Meanwhile, a majority (62%) of company heads also expressed a willingness to speak at high schools and Cégeps or serve as mentors to encourage entrepreneurial development.

From a training standpoint, 78% of company managers who considered they had made significant investments in the business last year (89% of respondents) invested in training their labour force, while the percentage rises to 68% for those expecting to invest substantially over the next 24 months (84% of respondents).

Expressing their view on three measures that might provide students with faster access to the labour force and a fair balance between the students themselves and better use of the government's financial resources, 79% of the company managers believe the college or university-level students who take supplementary terms beyond what is set out in the program should be entitled to an extra semester on the same financial conditions, but they would have to pay the actual cost for any additional terms they take. Three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed feel that university tuition fees should be adjusted in relation to the actual cost of the course in the various disciplines, and 88% agree that, should there be a substantial hike in tuition fees, increased financial assistance should be made available to students in need, and a portion of this aid would then be repaid by the students, in relation to their employment income.1

New arrivals and experienced workers

Resorting to immigrant workers and maintaining the employment of an experienced labour force aged 55 and older are two pivotal strategies to confront a shortage of skilled workers.

The survey, in this regard, shows that two-thirds (67%) of company manager respondents express an interest in hiring immigrant workers who have never previously worked in the province of Québec. But the fact 33% of respondents are unreceptive to such a recommendation might indicate a significant portion of companies still do not realize the urgency of the problem of being able to access a skilled labour force or do not believe resorting to immigrant workers is a way to solve the issue. Among the reluctance to hiring immigrant workers, the respondents cited an inability to understand the language (30%) or the Québec culture (20%), and the lack of qualifications (23%) or experience (12%).

Close to three of every four company managers (73%) consider the implementing of measures to keep experienced workers aged 55 and older on the job is important for their company. As a result, 79% of the managers surveyed showed a willingness to reduce work hours and 78% are ready to offer greater flexibility in terms of work hours to hold on to their experienced labour force. Almost 8 in 10 respondents (79%) would agree to the federal and provincial governments making changes to public pension plans to encourage experienced workers to prolong their stay on the job market.

Private investment in Québec

W hile Québec is the province that has had the lowest rate of private investment in the country2 — a determining success factor — 89% of companies say they have made significant investments in the past year, and 84% of them expect to make substantial investments over the course of the next 24 months.

Besides the investment made in training, the companies have mainly invested or expect to invest in equipment (66% over the past year and 56% over the next 24 months), and in information technologies or communications (38% and 34% respectively). It should be noted, however, that the investment in information technologies or communications is relatively light and undoubtedly needed to be increased considering the link made by numerous studies3 between company investments in this area and overall productivity. In 2007, Québec ranked third in a reference group of four Canadian provinces, behind Ontario and Alberta, but ahead of British Columbia, with an investment of $2,963 per worker in this sector.4

This Léger Marketing survey was conducted by telephone from November 8-26, 2010 among 350 managers of companies of 25 employees or more. Its margin of error is 5.24%, 19 times out of 20. The complete report (in French) is available on the Quebec Employers Council website (www.cpq.qc.ca).

The Quebec Employers Council brings together many of Québec's largest companies and the vast majority of sector-based employers' groups, making it Québec's sole employer federation.

1  As part of another Léger Marketing survey conducted in November 2010 by the Quebec Employers Council among 500 university students, the respondents express agreement with these latter three recommendations in a respective ratio of 41%, 46% and 82%.

2    Over the last 25 years, the portion of private investment in the GDP was, on average, 14% in Québec compared to 17% in the rest of Canada.

3  Benoit A. Aubert et al. Productivité et technologies de l'information, Centre sur la productivité et la prospérité, HEC Montréal, 2009.

4  Quebec Employers Council. Report Card on Quebec Prosperity, 2010, pgs. 43 and 44.


SOURCE CONSEIL DU PATRONAT DU QUEBEC

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