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Many Canadians feel trapped in their jobs

Restless employees in Canada and the U.S. feel trapped in their current jobs, recruiters report, and many are looking to make a jump in the new year

Richard Cote/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Richard Cote/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many Canadians feel trapped in their jobs and hope to escape in the new year, according to a survey by staffing service Right Management.

Of 1,000 employees polled in Canada and the United States, 84 per cent said they plan to actively look for a new position in 2012, and only 5 per cent said they were certain they would stay in their current position.

The rest said they were networking or upgrading their résumé and might jump if an opportunity came along.

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The survey findings reflect widespread dissatisfaction, said Right Management executive vice-president Bram Lowsky.

"Employees are restless and feel they are lacking in options. The prolonged period of economic uncertainty has meant much less job mobility than usual, and employees understandably believe they have fewer career opportunities, either internally or via a new position."

Two other surveys found that the market for workers with computer and technical skills is growing, suggesting opportunities for career growth to people willing to retrain and flexible about where the job is located, experts say.

The first study of technology jobs by staffing service Robert Half found seven roles will be in greater demand by employers in the coming year: mobile applications developers, Web designers, network engineers, data warehouse analysts, data security managers, search engine optimization specialists, and marketing specialists.

"Many of these roles are quite challenging for employers to fill. In many cases, the demand for qualified professionals exceeds the supply," said Lara Dodo, a Canadian regional vice-president of Robert Half Technology.

"Professionals who have a high degree of specialization, and hands-on experience helping companies take advantage of emerging technologies, are among the most highly sought by employers," she said.

In the second survey, half of Canadian manufacturers who responded to PricewaterhouseCooper's "Manufacturing Barometer" study said they expect to hire workers at some point over next 12 months. Only 5 per cent of companies said they are planning to reduce their work forces.

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"Despite some doom and gloom surrounding the manufacturing industry of late, it is not all bad news for Canadian manufacturers," said Calum Semple, consulting partner at PwC. "The mining, energy and aerospace industries in Canada are booming, creating strong demand for suppliers," he said.

But growth in the mining, energy, and aerospace industry also comes at a time when trained technicians are in short supply, which explains why 45 per cent of employers said the lack of talent could be a significant barrier to their growth. "While resource-rich industries are key drivers of demand; they also draw substantially on the same limited supply of skilled workers," Mr. Semple said.

There is a significant shortage of skilled workers at all levels, "from welders and engineers to [heating and air-conditioning]technicians," Mr. Semple said.

"This is an opportunity for Canadians looking for skilled employment to boost their incomes, but they may have to be willing to be retrained and relocate, as many of these job opportunities are not in the big cities."

Employers looking to hold on to staff who have their eye on the door need to show they have a strategy to grow and offer opportunities in the coming year, Mr. Lowsky said. "Top management can't hope these challenges will go away on their own," he said.

Management must identify star performers and have constructive career discussions with them about their future.

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"These kinds of people always have career options. It's your job to know who they are, to let them know you know who they are and to tune in to their individual motivators in order to hold on to them," Mr. Lowsky said.

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