*Feature image by Rob Nelson www.robnelson.ca
British Columbia’s economy is hot and its unemployment rate certainly reflects that. Thanks to strong performance in industries including oil and gas, technology, tourism, finance and real estate, British Columbia wrapped up August 2018 with the lowest unemployment rate of any Canadian province at just 5.3 per cent.
While this low unemployment rate is certainly something to celebrate, it also means that the labour market is heating up. Does recruiting in a job seeker’s market like BC’s require strategic shifts in approach to come out a winner in the war for top talent? We went straight to the source and asked some of our top recruiters in the province what they’re keeping their eyes on in the BC talent market right now.
#1: Difficult-to-fill Positions
According to a recent report by the BC Chamber of Commerce, two-thirds of BC businesses surveyed are struggling with difficult-to-fill positions, the majority of which are for higher skilled or senior positions. Nearly a quarter of those businesses had dealt with middle or senior manager positions being vacant for over six months.
#2: Desired Skills and Experience
The same report found that 45 per cent of BC businesses surveyed were only occasionally or even infrequently able to recruit candidates with the desired skills and experience over the past year. The two most frequent skills or experience found to be lacking in candidates were job-specific technical skills and relevant on-the-job experience. To deal with this skillset deficit, nearly three-quarters of employers indicated they routinely resort to hiring less-qualified employees and training them on-the-job.
#3: Location of Labour Pool
Another interesting finding in the report was the fact that 80 per cent of the businesses surveyed indicated that they frequently recruit new employees locally. When they look beyond their city, nearly the same number of businesses recruit internationally (4%) as from other areas within Canada (5%). This is interesting given the fact that it is often much easier to place from within the country.
#4: Wage and Benefit Increases
To retain staff, more than half of the businesses surveyed indicated that they were increasing wages (56%) and/or benefits (52%). Interestingly, business located in the Northeast of the province rely on wage increases as a retention strategy more often (75%) than in the Mainland/Southwest region of BC (51%).
Having to pay increased wage and benefits costs isn’t the only negative impact BC’s labour shortage is having on the bottom lines of companies located in the province: over a quarter of the businesses surveyed (27%) reported that they had reduced their total business output or reduced or modified their type of product or service offerings to try to address the labour challenges they were facing.
Partnering with a recruitment firm that specializes in placing technical talent is a sound strategy for helping your company not just survive but thrive through a very competitive labour market like BC’s. By hiring on contract, companies can hire strategically for their projects while attracting highly qualified talent who may not place a priority on long-term employment because they care more about flexibility, autonomy, and having the opportunity to accomplish a significant project that will help build their resume for more exciting initiatives in the future. Working with a recruiting firm like Ian Martin, with locations across the country, also makes it easier to connect with Canadian talent in other provinces who are willing to make the move for the right opportunity.
If you’d like to learn more about how contract staffing can benefit your business, our Insider’s Guide to Technical Recruitment and 5-Minute Outsourcing Assessment are great tools to get your research started.