SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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Skills Gap Still Top of Mind Issue for Canadian Workers in 2014

TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - Addressing the skills gap continues to be top of mind with Canadian workers, according to a new study by Ipsos-Reid on behalf of Randstad Canada. In fact, more than nine-in-ten (91.2%) of working Canadians say they feel that the skills shortage/skills gap will continue to be an issue of importance in Canada in 2014.

The Randstad Canada Labour Trends Study 2014, polling 2,076 Canadian employees and managers across the country on their expectations for the coming year, revealed that a lack of skilled trades workers (16.3%), outsourcing of jobs or increases in numbers of international workers (15.2%) and a lack of skilled workers overall (9.9%) are the biggest issues that the country's organizations are facing in 2014. Those in the Prairies (23.2%) and Alberta (21.6%) are most likely to feel that a lack of skilled trades workers is the single biggest issue in 2014.

"What we are seeing here is reflective of what we've seen in the field throughout the past year - organizations in the industrial and technical sectors are struggling to find highly skilled candidates," says Tom Turpin, President, Randstad Canada. "This is especially true in the West, where oil & gas projects are booming, and in Quebec where we see growth in the IT and aerospace fields".

Skilled trades: the most promising industry for Canadians
Skilled trades is the area in which most Canadians see the greatest job opportunities for 2014. Nearly half (44.7%) see skilled trades as one of the top 3 industries for job opportunities in the coming year, with nearly one in four (23.8%) seeing it as the single best industry for opportunities in the coming year. Healthcare (38.2%), Oil & Gas (33.9%), Technology (26.9%), and Engineering and Construction (25.2%) were also amongst the top five for opportunities based on the opinions of those polled.

Men are more likely than women to believe that Oil & Gas and Engineering and Construction present the best/most opportunities in the coming year; however, women (48.5%) were more likely than men (42.3%) to see skilled trades as the industry offering the best/most job opportunities in 2014.

Industry sectors like Not for Profit, Academia, Arts, Entertainment and Recreation, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Security were the areas that the majority of respondents believed provided the least amount of opportunity in 2014. Additionally, three in ten (28.9%) respondents see trades skills (i.e. plumbing, electrical, etc.) as the most in demand skill set today. This is especially true west of Ontario and East of Quebec, signaling high demand on both coasts for skilled trades workers.

Are organizations doing enough to address the skills gaps?
Whether manager or employee, BCer or Quebecer, Canadian workers believe the responsibility to properly address the issue of the skills gap/shortage lies with companies, governments and educators, and not with hard working Canadians. According to those polled, promotion, compensation, and investment in skills training are critical to properly address the issue of the skills gap/shortage in both the short and long term.

Four out of ten say that companies need to invest more in skills training for their employees (40%), with another 38% saying that educators need to do more to promote to students industries and job roles that are likely to lead to careers addressing the skills shortage/gap.

One in three (32.9%) think that governments need to invest more in skills training for unemployed and underemployed workers, with one-quarter (25.7%) also believing governments need to provide better incentives for workers to move into positions that address the skills shortage/gap.

Young workers (18-34) are more likely to expect companies to provide better financial incentives (41.4%), while mature workers (55+) are especially critical of the role that educators have played in addressing the issue and promoting industries and job roles to students (44.9%), and incentivizing students to pursue these types of careers (33.7%). Women are more likely to feel that governments can have a large impact in the issue when compared to men, while men see the responsibility sitting with companies more so than women.

Lack of education, negative perceptions widening the gap
According to the study, Canadian workers believe that education and perception are core reasons that have led to today's skills shortage. Four in five (79%) survey respondents stated they feel a lack of knowledge in skilled trades has led to less Canadians considering them a career option, while more than three-quarters (76.6%) felt that a perception of skilled trade work being less respected and more old fashioned in comparison to 'white collar' work has led to less interest for Canadians desiring these types of roles.

Ontarians (69.4%) most frequently stated that they experienced pressure by family to pursue more traditional 'white collar' careers when in school, while Quebecers experienced the least amount of familial intervention (52.2%).

Future opportunities
More than one-third of those polled said that they would consider pursuing a career in skilled trades if there were good immediate and long term job prospects (37%), or if they presented better long-term job security than other fields (34.8%). Additionally, nearly one-third (31.8%) say that training programs readily available to help transition or begin in the field would entice them to pursue a career in skilled trades.

More than one-quarter of Quebecers (25.8%) and Canadians under the age of 35 (25.5%) said they would consider entering a skilled trade if they required less and/or lower cost pre-work education. Only one in six Canadians (16.7%) would not for any reason consider a career in skilled trades, including one in five women (20.6%).

"There is still a lot to be done to change perceived negative perceptions around skilled trades. Everyone, from organizations to schools, governments and placement agencies like us, need to do more to promote careers in skilled trades," says Turpin. As companies use more sophisticated equipment and technologies, they need workers with specialized technical skills - and this translates into higher salaries. The opportunities are there for young Canadians who are open to a different academic and career path, and for organizations who are willing to invest in training and developing them through apprenticeships".

Survey Methodology: These are the results of a survey conducted by Ipsos-Reid Public Affairs on behalf of Randstad Canada. A total sample of 2,076 employed Canadians was interviewed via Ipsos' online panel, including n= 800 managers/employers and n= 1,276 generally employed Canadians. The survey was conducted between December 20th and 29th, 2013. The survey is considered accurate to +/- 2.5 percentage points of all employed Canadians, +/-4 percentage points of all Canadians in a managerial role and +/-3.1 percentage points of all Canadians working in a non-managerial role.

About Randstad Canada: Randstad Canada is the Canadian leader for staffing, recruitment and HR Services. As the only fully integrated staffing company in the country, we understand the recruitment needs and demands of employers and job seekers across all levels and industries. Through our insightful knowledge of local markets, employment trends and global network of recruitment experts, we are shaping the Canadian world of work. Visit randstad.ca

SOURCE Randstad Canada

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