The Canadian job market has been in flux in the past few years, adjusting to various parts of the economy periodically shutting down. The wave of unemployment propelled by the Covid-19 pandemic has started receding, and job growth has increased. The scales are currently tipped in job seekers’ favour, meaning candidates with valued skills are in high demand. Given the tight labour market, industries are broadening their scope of search and what qualifies candidates for a job.  

Employers are looking at various ways to compete for talent; In Canada, some employers are offering hiring and referral bonuses, shortening their hiring processes and looking at schedule and location flexibility. However compelling the job description and offer, skills gaps remain a major issue in a market with labour shortages. Indeed asked 1,000 Canadian employers of all business sizes to determine what skills are most sought after and difficult to find, as well as how they are adapting their recruitment efforts. 

The labour shortage means there’s a gap in hard skills

Many Canadians have been shifting priorities to seek better work-life balance, remote work opportunities, and even full career changes. Moreover, an RBC report warns that the number of skilled tradespeople expected to retire in the next five years outweighs the number of apprentices capable of replacing them. With experienced professionals in the trades and tech fields leaving the industries, it has left a gap in the market for employees with specific hard skills. 

Canadian employers are currently reporting the most difficulty finding those with skills related to:

  • Digital and IT (29%)
  • Project Management (29%)
  • Engineering (25%)
  • Software Development (25%)
  • Coding (18%)
  • Product Design (17%)
  • Machine operation (17%)
  • Measurable Technical Skills (i.e., drawing) (17%)
  • Construction (16%)
  • Healthcare (injections, vital checks, suturing etc.) (14%)

Of these respondents, 38% anticipate it being even more difficult to fill these types of roles in the next two to five years. 

The challenge of finding qualified skilled candidates is forcing employers to adapt, making opportunities more accessible to job seekers across Canada. With many companies also able to offer remote or hybrid work, candidate location is not as important a factor as it once was in recruiting; however, whether or not it’s possible for all roles, expanding location search is not the only answer. In particular, industries such as finance, manufacturing, and utilities are reacting to the need to fill roles by broadening their idea of the right candidate. 

Canadian employers are seeing value in a good attitude and willingness to learn

Scarcity of required hard skills means that employers are looking at soft skills – communication, teamwork, and ability to handle pressure, to name a few – to source promising, trainable candidates who can learn on the job.

In a tight labour market such as this, the majority (77%) of employers who participated in the survey said they find value in candidates who are open to learning rather than hiring only based on direct experience. Of these respondents, 69% said that hiring employees without direct experience is an opportunity to fill otherwise empty roles in rapidly growing industries, and 37% said they would even sacrifice years of experience when hiring in today’s market. 

The current trends remind us not to limit the evaluation of a candidate to their credentials. Valuable aptitudes  –  critical thinking, leadership, work ethic, adaptability, time management, attention to detail, and an overall positive attitude – are seen as more and more crucial to building productive teams, and happy and successful work environments. 

Employers are considering new approaches to hiring, such as internal training to fill open roles

Hiring managers are also becoming more flexible when it comes to required qualifications, even in technical fields and higher level positions.

The vast majority of Canadian employers surveyed (78%) are open to hiring candidates who don’t possess a relevant degree or certifications, and even more said that their companies invest in training inexperienced employees in order for them to fill certain roles. This support from employers is manifesting not only with in-house training and development (77%), but also with additional compensation for continuing education (40%). 

Of the employers who do not consider candidates without direct experience, 45% of them reported that they provide in-house training and development to existing employees to fill vacant positions. Promoting people with transferable skills from the inside, whose soft skills they already know and trust – is a win-win. 

What is evident is that employer-employee dynamics are shifting, individual and corporate needs are evolving, and adapting will be essential to the benefit of all parties in the market. Employer branding becomes a powerful recruitment tool in a competitive market. Using your website, social media and third party platforms, such as Indeed Company Pages are all ways to convey an organization’s flexibility and openness to diverse candidates who are willing to learn. They are also important channels to talk about employee development and internal training, and shine a spotlight on how the company prioritizes soft skills as a path to success. 

As job seekers are in high demand and are more demanding of their current and prospective employers, organizations have to show flexibility in their hiring practices and value other attributes in candidates. This, in turn, has the benefit of diversifying the talent pool and making workplaces more agile. 

Methodology

This survey was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Indeed among 1,000 employers of all business sizes, in Canada who are responsible for hiring new candidates. The survey was conducted in May 2022. The confidence interval is +/-3.1%, with a 95% confidence level.