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Canadian firms expect ‘extreme’ challenge hiring skilled staff

A woman reads ads at the The National Job Fair & Training Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 2012.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Many Canadian businesses expect to see an increase in activity in 2013, but a huge challenge will be finding the right candidates with the necessary skills, says a new survey due for release in early January.

The report from Hays Canada, a division of the international recruitment firm, surveyed more than 3,000 Canadian companies in November. It found that 62 per cent of them expect their business activity to get a boost in 2013. But 78 per cent of respondents said they will experience moderate to "extreme" challenges recruiting top talent, because there will continue to be a mismatch between the available candidates and those who have the necessary skills.

"In 2012, as the economy began to recover, many companies significantly ramped up recruitment to refill roles that were lost during the recession," Rowan O'Grady, president of Hays Canada, said in a news release.

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"Hays expects hiring practices in 2013 to be largely strategic in nature where professionals with key skill sets will cost a premium," he said. "Increased efficiencies and improved productivity is the goal of companies today and individuals who can help make that happen in organizations are in high demand."

In light of the continuing war for talent, Mr. O'Grady said that for companies to be able to land the best employees, they need to improve how they attract, screen and retain staff so they can remain competitive.

The survey found that more than 50 per cent of employers said career progression is the biggest influencing factor in attracting top talent. Mr. O'Grady said companies need to invest more in current employees, helping them to define their goals and address any deficiencies in skills.

Companies faced with a lack of talent can try to alleviate that pressure by sponsoring qualified overseas candidates. Last year, despite the skills shortage, only 19 per cent of employers decided to look outside Canada for potential candidates. The survey found that in 2013 most Canadian companies – 58 per cent – said they will not sponsor, or are undecided about sponsoring, a foreign candidate for a job. Nearly half said the lengthy immigration process is a barrier to looking for talent elsewhere.

However, companies' reluctance to look to immigration to fill vacant jobs could change given that the federal government plans to fast-track entry of skilled foreign workers when there's demand for their specific talents. Earlier this month, Ottawa said it will change its evaluation criteria to encourage more young immigrants to apply, and it will alter how it assesses work experience and education.

The Hays survey also looked at opinions about the economy, hiring and salaries. The outlook for the economy was mixed, with 34 per cent of respondents saying it will improve in the next year, while 55 per cent expect it to stay static. The survey also found that while 35 per cent of respondents expect permanent staff levels to increase in the coming year, 53 per cent expect them to remain the same. Nearly half of respondents – 48 per cent – predicted that salaries will increase by less than 3 per cent in 2013, and 37 per cent said salaries would rise by between 3 per cent and 6 per cent.

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About the Author
Assistant Editor, Globe Investor

Gillian Livingston started her journalism career at The Gazette at Western University. She's worked for The Financial Post, Dow Jones Newswires and The Canadian Press as a reporter for news, business, markets and Ontario politics. More


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