Nikita George was a fine arts graduate looking for a job in the music industry when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
With concert halls closing and music schools shutting down, the Calgary woman quickly realized she had two choices: stay home and wait for things to improve, or commit to a whole new path.
She chose the latter, enrolling in a six-month quick training program offered by InceptionU, a Calgary-based nonprofit tech training organization. Last week, George started his new job as a full stack developer for Acuspire, a Calgary-based tech startup.
“At first I was a little scared because it’s a big leap from music and education to technology,” said George.
“I thought about waiting (for the pandemic to end), but then I thought maybe I should take advantage. Use the pandemic to learn something, to develop a new skill, so that there are other opportunities that I can seize. “
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Much has been written in recent months about Canadian employers struggling with labor shortages 18 months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report released Wednesday provides further evidence, with more than 60 percent of Canadian businesses saying widespread labor shortages are limiting their growth.
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The report, produced by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), combines the results of two surveys, one that surveyed 1,251 Canadian entrepreneurs in May 2021 and a survey of 3,000 Canadian employees in June 2021. Its results suggest that 49% of business owners had to delay or were unable to deliver orders to customers due to a lack of manpower.
It also says that many small and medium business owners report vacancies for three or four months in a row, with 61 percent saying they’ve had to increase their own hours or their employees’ working hours. Consequently.
“This is very serious, because it slows the growth of many businesses in Canada and, therefore, will slow down the growth of the economy,” said Pierre Cleroux, chief economist at BDC.
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However, the report also digs holes in some of the established narratives we’ve heard so far about the labor shortage.
Contrary to popular opinion, Cleroux said, the pandemic has not created a labor shortage in Canada, it has simply made an existing problem worse.
While COVID-19 has certainly disrupted the Canadian labor market by temporarily cutting off the flow of immigrants to the country and causing some workers to quit rather than risk exposure to the virus on the job, Cleroux said the problem the key is simple demographics. “
“Today, 16 percent of Canadians are over 65. Over the next five years, many Canadians will be retiring, ”said Cleroux. “And few young people enter the labor market. “
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Some employers who are struggling to hire have suggested that the Canada Emergency Benefit and other government assistance programs may make it more attractive for employees to stay home rather than return to the workforce as they move forward. the economy is opening up. But the BDC report suggests that phasing out CERB and similar programs will not solve the problem.
While sectors like accommodation and food services, retail and manufacturing lost thousands of jobs during the pandemic, professional and business services, education, public administration and healthcare. health workers actually gained during the pandemic.
In fact, the report says 20 percent of workers who lost their jobs during the pandemic are now working, like Nikita George, in an entirely different field.
“Now they prefer this job, so they don’t go back. This worsens the situation of certain sectors of our economy, ”said Cleroux.
“We want to send a signal to businesses that this is a long term problem.”
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Cleroux suggested that employers should look to automation and technology to help tackle workforce challenges, as well as offering “total compensation” that includes perks such as benefits, employee benefits, employee benefits. training and flexibility to help attract candidates.
In a report released in August, the Business Council of Alberta also concluded that pandemic support programs like CERB are not the driving factor behind the labor shortage.
About a quarter of companies polled by the council said income supports are a barrier to finding workers, but only seven percent said it was the most significant barrier.
The group said “increased pay, greater flexibility in remote work, improved job training and micro-accreditation” may be needed for employers seeking to attract workers and reduce job turnover.
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