84% of Canadian companies expect hiring challenges over the next year

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September 23, 2021 — The skills gap and competition for labor continue to challenge Canadian companies, according to a survey released Wednesday by Express Employment Professionals. The survey found more than four in five companies, 84%, expect to face hiring challenges over the next year.

The most common reason for the inability to find qualified staff is difficulty assessing candidates’ skills during the hiring process, cited by 29% of respondents. This is closely followed by the available talent pool not matching the company’s needs, 28%, and increased competition in the job market, 26%.

Nearly one-third of companies, 28%, said their company has open positions that they cannot fill. Hiring decision-makers say this is mostly due to a skills gap, with applicants lacking relevant experience, cited by 48%, and/or hard skills being the main reasons companies struggle to find staff, cited by 46%. Thirty-five percent said a lack of any applicants is another top reason, followed by a lack of applicants with soft skills at 33%.

Express franchise owners from across the country are reporting that labor shortages and skills gaps are severe and only getting worse.

“Hiring challenges have increased significantly in the last three months,” said Shane DeCoste, Express franchise owner in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “I would say 90% of our clients are facing hiring challenges, and we are hearing almost daily from companies who have never needed help, reaching out asking for assistance.”

Jobs that used to take days or a week to fill are often going unfilled for a month or more and some companies are having to adjust schedules and deliverable timelines based on the workforce available, he noted.

In Guelph, Ontario, Express franchise owner Dwayne Williams sees the same labor problems facing local businesses and says the number one reason is increased competition in the job market.

“It’s an employee market and they have options to look for and find what suits their needs for pay rate, shift schedule and job role,” Williams said. “We are seeing more job opportunities being turned down as the offering does not match the job seeker’s criteria.”

Williams adds turnover is high even with increased incentives.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, Express franchise owner Brent Pollington said higher wages are not having the outcome employers expected.

“Everyone is feeling the shortage, so some employers are trying to combat it with higher wages, but surprisingly this hasn’t resulted in an increased flow of qualified candidates,” Pollington said. “What we’re seeing is more unskilled people apply who are seeking the highest dollar regardless of their ability to perform in a position.”

Pollington says in addition to increased competition for labor, a massive skills gap is contributing to the employers’ inability to fill jobs.

The survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between March 23 and April 12, among 505 Canadian hiring decision-makers.


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