Expect hiring climate to hold steady: survey

Fifth of employers plan to add workers

Canadian employers expect the hiring climate to hold steady in the second quarter, dipping slightly from the previous quarter, according to an employment survey by Manpower Inc.

The poll of 1,900 employers from various sectors found that 20 per cent plan to hire workers in the three-month period from April to June.

Five per cent said they anticipate cutbacks to hiring, while 75 per cent said they will keep existing staffing levels.

Overall, the poll found that the net employment outlook was 12 per cent, a small decline of one percentage point from the first quarter of 2013.

Byrne Luft, vice-president of operations for Manpower Canada, says the results forecast growth in hiring rates in the public utilities and transportation, driven largely by a weakening loonie compared with the American dollar.

Employers in these sectors reported the most optimistic net employment outlook of any industry, at 22 per cent, a one per cent increase from the first quarter and a six per cent gain from the second quarter of the previous year.

The survey also showed that hiring in the mining sector may have tapered off. For the second period, the outlook remained unchanged at eight per cent, a large drop of 13 per cent from the same quarter in 2012.

Meanwhile, labour markets in Atlantic Canada and Western Canada were expected to remain the strongest in the country for the second quarter.

Luft says the results point to a need for employers to come up with a strategy to ensure that the gap between the “talent mismatch” phenomenon — where there are job vacancies but no skilled workers to fill them — does not continue to widen.

“We are relying more and more on foreign recruitment and obviously other people to come to Canada. I think the ideal situation that we have people within Canada that could fill those jobs,” he said.

“We need to do a better job in changing the mindset of people entering the workforce and having them explore other career options versus the one they believe, they think they should take.”

Luft says this can be accomplished in a variety of ways such as reducing the stigma associated with skilled trades, employers hiring more apprentices and creating nationally-accepted credentials to reduce the need for retraining when workers relocate to another province.

“We have to get in front of this. In fact we’re not in front of it, we’re well behind it,” he said. “It’s time to get up to speed here on some of the efficiencies.”

Last week, Statistics Canada reported that 50,700 new jobs were created February. The majority were full-time, private sector jobs in Ontario.

The numbers came as a surprise, and kept the national unemployment rate at a four-year low of 7.0 per cent.

Economists had forecasted only modest growth for February, predicting about 8,000 new jobs following an outright loss in January of 22,000 jobs.

Manpower, which conducts the survey each quarter, says these latest results were from a poll taken between Jan. 17-29.

—Linda Nguyen