Skilled labour shortages sporadic and short-lived

CGA-Canada finds aging population has minor impact in specific trades

VANCOUVER, July 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Labour shortages continue to exist across Canada, but they are sporadic and short-lived, according to the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) that today released its report Labour Shortages in Skilled Trades - The Best Guestimate. The report explores skilled labour shortages in five trades in five Canadian provinces - Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Québec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

In 2011, 9.7 per cent of the entire Canadian labour force was engaged in trade occupations; down from the 11.3 per cent experienced in 1987. "Our assessment shows that labour shortages occurred occasionally within different regions and typically lasted not more than one year at a time over the past decade," says Anthony Ariganello, CGA-Canada's president and CEO. "The recent shortages are not unexpected as the labour force tends to decline during and shortly after the recession as less employment opportunities are available and workers adapt."

In Ontario, a brief episode of labour shortages was experienced in telecommunication occupations and electrical trades in 2010. Likewise, the motor vehicle mechanics trade experienced a tight market in 2006 and 2011 in Ontario, and in 2003, 2005, and 2010 in Québec. Brief labour shortages of carpenters and cabinetmakers, electrical trades and metal forming, shaping and erecting trades were also observed in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008 and 2011. In Alberta and Saskatchewan, the assessment of labour shortages is limited due to lack of information on unemployment at the occupational level.

The report also found that 64 per cent of skilled trades have relatively young age structures, comprising of more workers in the early stages of their careers than those nearing retirement.

"Each province and occupation ages at a different pace," says Rock Lefebvre, vice-president of Research and Standards and co-author of the report. "This indicates that the impact of the retiring baby boomer population on shortages of skilled trade workers may be marginal in specific trades."

In 2011, young workers exceeded the number of those close to retirement in many skilled trades, including: plumbers, pipefitters and gas fitters; electrical trades; carpenters and cabinetmakers, other construction trades; and other installers and repairers experienced a higher ratio of young workers to those retiring. However, data on machinists and related occupations, heavy equipment operators, and machinery and transportation equipment mechanics reflect the opposite.

"Short-term labour shortages of this nature are best dealt with through short-term solutions that can generate positive outcomes for Canadian employees and businesses," adds Lefebvre.

Brief labour shortages may have certain benefits. For example, tighter labour markets may encourage professional development and growth opportunities for employees, and better align wages with growth in productivity. Businesses may likewise optimize their organizational and operational structure, invest in machinery and equipment and improve overall efficiency.

CGA-Canada looked at the five largest trade groups which account for more than one-third of the total labour force engaged in skilled trades and include: carpenters; automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers; welders and related machine operators; construction millwrights and industrial mechanics; and electricians. Respectively, these trades account for 10.1 per cent, 9.6 per cent, 6.6 per cent, 4.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent of all skilled trades.

For more information, including provincial highlights visit our website.

About CGA-Canada
Founded in 1908, the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada serves 75,000 Certified General Accountants and students in Canada and more than 100 countries. Respected accounting and financial management professionals, CGAs work in industry, finance, government and public practice. CGA-Canada establishes the designation's certification requirements and professional standards, offers professional development, conducts research and advocacy, and represents CGAs nationally and internationally.

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