Canada’s skills gap has been well studied and well documented. In fact, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce ranks the skills gap at the very top of the top 10 barriers to improved Canadian competitiveness.There are currently 1.3 million Canadians looking for work and 210,000 job vacancies waiting to be filled. Our workforce participation rate has dropped. And, many Canadians are underemployed because they cannot find jobs that match their skills.

In the US the situation mirrors that of Canada’s. Kathryn Minshew, CEO of the Daily Muse and a mentor and friend to Aspire-Canada appeared on FOX recently to discuss the growing problem (See the interview here: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/3309109325001/helping-to-plug-the-growing-skills-gap/?#sp=show-clips). According to Career-builder.com from a survey of over 1,000 companies in the US, careers in the STEM fields were the among the hardest jobs to fill. According to the career builder survey the professions that were the hardest to fill are:

  •  Computers and Mathematics
  • Architecture & Engineering
  • Management occupations
  • Health care practitioners

 According to careerbuilder.com companies lose $14,000 for every job that stays vacant for 3 months or longer. The same seems to be true for Canada. Engineers Canada says our country already faces a short supply of engineers with more than 10 years of specialized experience. The Canadian Mining Industry Human Resource Council estimates the need for 140,000 new hires in the industry by 2021.

 So what are some of the solutions?

 It is said that one of the ways that companies hamper their search for talent is by being too narrow in their criteria. We still live in a world of strict matching – where we have a job opening and we seek to fill it by finding a person with an exact set of skills and experience. That model doesn’t work anymore. We’re wasting time and resources as we wait for the perfect candidate to come along. Essentially, we’re following a traditional approach during a non-traditional time for hiring.

As our skills shortage grows more intense over the coming decade, we need to adapt to the reality that the people we hire may not fit every need and specific requirement right out of the gate. Our focus needs to evolve from “How long will it take to fill this position?”” to “How long will it take to get the person we hire up to speed?” It is already said that Canadian employers need to invest more in on the job training.

Employers may need to focus to building, rather than buying. Instead of looking for the perfect match, the exact fit, we can focus on hiring those who demonstrate a capacity to learn – and developing the internal training and skills development programs required to get them to where they need to be as quickly as possible. That will result in a larger pool of candidates that can be accessed more efficiently. Yes, training costs may go up – but lost productivity from unfilled positions will go way down.
To reduce costs and improve recruiting outcomes, the company has narrowed the number of universities it targets – while focusing on high performers no matter their field of study. They then take on the task of training these high achievers to fill specific positions.

 This will also create a more level playing field for all graduates and help solve some of the other issues that we hear pop-up like “skills-mismatch and credentials-creep. It is these  too-narrowly-focused recruitment strategies that may contribute to some of these very issues.

What are your thoughts?

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