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Concern over the Canadian skills gap, where increasingly vacant jobs are not matched to the skills of the available workers, has been addressed in the 2013 budget, released last Thursday, with the government creating new programs and regulations to address the problem. While the new programs like the new Canada Jobs Grant are encouraging, some of the new regulations may be cause for concern for Canadian companies relying on labor mobility to fill vacant positions.
As a housing company specializing in long-term furnished housing, ideal for temporary workers and the mobile workforce, we will be keeping a close eye on how this story develops.
The skills gap has become a more and more pressing issue in recent years. Canadian businesses increasingly are unable to find the right people for positions while unemployment persists, as those industries with vacant positions require skills unmatched to available Canadian workers. Furthermore the gap is set to increase with a retiring workforce as the first of the baby boomers are already leaving skilled positions vacant.
Many companies are relying on temporary foreign workers to fill these gaps but the finance minister intends to reverse this trend and to encourage businesses to work harder at hiring Canadians first. The 2013 Budget contains several regulations and incentives to encourage employers to look harder and longer for Canadian workers to fill vacant positions. Additionally, companies will have to help pay for administrative costs and fees associated with the temporary foreign worker program, a cost that was previously covered by the government. This measure in itself could help discourage employers from taking advantage of the program.
In an effort to harmonize the available workforce to vacant Canadian jobs, the government also introduced the new Canada Job Grant with the 2013 budget, an attempt at tailoring training programs towards the appropriate skills and industries consistently requiring workers. The key to the program is connecting skills training to current Canadian jobs most urgently seeking employees.
Reception of the budget has been mixed, with some companies and corporate entities worried that these measures may have unwelcome effects on the economy. A C-Suite survey, polling corporate executives and completed right before the budget was released, shows that many executives find that immigration and labor mobility is key to growing the economy and lessening the burden of the skills gap. That same survey indicated that most executives also feel that training is the number one key to boosting the economy.
HR professionals, housing specialists, and others in the interested industries will be watching to see how this story unfolds. These changes are too new for any ripple effect to be felt in the temporary housing industry as of yet.
I don’t see this as having a huge effect on our industry right away as we will still be seeing companies hiring from different provinces within Canada and requiring temporary housing for their mobile workforce. We will, of course, be watching these developments with interest as many of our guests are business travelers, immigrants, and foreign workers.