The headlines tell the story of a labour market where there are more jobs than there are people, or at least it seems that way to employers who are struggling to find their next hire.  The latest alarm bell sounded recently when the media reported Ontario will be short 8,500 early childhood educators as the province adds tens of thousands more child-care spaces as it implements the new national $10-a-day day care program.

This comes on the heels of widespread shortages of health care workers that have forced some hospitals to close emergency departments and long-term care facilities to embark on aggressive employee recruitment campaigns, aided by government incentives. In almost all sectors, there are gaps in the workforce and the 2021 national census data doesn’t offer much good news.  In fact, the census says that 26 percent of Renfrew County’s population is now 65 years of age or older.

Petawawa is one of the few municipalities in the region that is young.  The average age in Petawawa is considerably lower than other parts of Ontario because of the constant churn of military personnel at Garrison Petawawa, and that has put a lot of pressure on the community to find more daycare spaces, especially with more parents working from home.

Last fall, the Lanark Renfrew Labour Market Working Group held community consultations to explore more deeply the state of the local labour market.  The results were revealing. In a pre-consultation survey, almost all of the more than 50 local employers who responded, reported they were having difficulty recruiting new employees.

At the round-table discussions, the story was similar.  Consistently, employers said it was harder to find employees, tougher to retain them, and there were more community factors that were impacting an organization’s ability to manage their workforce. That list included the rising cost of living, the lack of affordable housing, the absence of public transit in rural areas, difficulty in attracting immigrants to smaller communities, the mental well-being of employees and the growing competition for workers.

A year ago, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said the country had over a million job vacancies. The economy has cooled slightly since the Chamber made that statement, but there is no question there are still a lot of help wanted signs hanging from shop doors.  If the country does fall into a recession, economists are already predicting it will be different than previous economic downtowns. They point out that the continued exit of baby boomers from the workforce, is going to leave more jobs available to workers who are affected by layoffs.

Part of the reason a recession in 2023 could look much different than previous recessions is the way we now work.  There have never been more options for workers than there is now.  The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated work from home options and removed geography as a key factor in determining where people worked.  With more job postings, offering remote working conditions that are not tied to a physical location, the job market has expanded exponentially for job seekers.

So, it doesn’t appear that the labour market shortages are going to end anytime soon.  Demographics, technology and more flexible work options have created the perfect labour market storm.

Written by Jamie Bramburger, Manager of Community and Student Affairs Algonquin College


Phone: (613) 735-4308 ext. 2843

Media Contact: Allison Donnelly


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