Around half of the businesses in Atlantic Canada are reporting challenges with recruiting and retaining employees, according to the January Report Card issued by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).
This should come as no surprise, says APEC president and CEO David Chaundy, given the region’s demographic challenges.
“In 1990, there were 20 new workers entering the region’s labour market for every 10 retiring; now there are only seven,” said Chaundy in a release about the report card. “We should not be surprised that employers are finding it harder to fill their labour needs.”
These worrisome numbers reflect demographic shifts caused by low fertility rates and outmigration of young people, accentuated by the large cohort of baby boomers that continue to move into retirement. Since 2015, there have been more deaths than births in Atlantic Canada.
Without net in-migration, the report says, the region’s population would be shrinking.
There are low and declining unemployment rates, especially in the region’s cities, a rising number of job vacancies, higher levels immigration and wage gains – all consistent with employer reports of labour challenges.
APEC’s report says employers are already responding to labour shortages with competitive wages and benefits and flexible employment practices. They are also stepping up efforts to hire more immigrants and people from under-represented groups, collaborating on skills training and development, and investing in technology and automation.