MRO Magazine

Proactive efforts to train and reskill workers can help with skills shortage, says jobs expert

Human Resources

October 20, 2015
By Bill Roebuck

Toronto – Unable to find candidates with the skills they need, many employers are struggling to fill in-demand positions; a total of 50% of employers feel there is a shortage of skilled workers in Canada, according to a new survey from

The survey also found that 3 in 10 employers (29%) currently have positions in their organization that, on average, stay open for 12 weeks or longer. Of those with extended job vacancies, 75% say the vacancies have adversely affected their firm.

The national survey was conducted online on behalf of of more than 400 hiring managers across Canada.

“Companies nationwide are feeling the effect of a skills gap, from lower morale to higher retention rates to a loss of revenue,” said Ryan Lazar, managing director of CareerBuilder Canada. “Our findings indicate, however, that taking proactive efforts to train and reskill workers can go a long way in overcoming these challenges. While we still have a long way to go, the more we can identify the root of these challenges, the more opportunities we will find to bridge this gap.”


Morale, productivity and retention are among the victims of extended vacancies, according to employers. When asked how extended job vacancies have adversely affected their firm, employers cited the following results:

– Work does not get done: 31%

– Lower morale due to employees shouldering heavier workloads: 26%

– Delays in delivery times: 24%

– Lower quality of work due to employees being overworked: 23%

– Employees are less motivated: 23%

– Loss in revenue: 22%

– Declines in customer service: 20%

– Higher turnover because employees are overworked: 19%

– Employees making more mistakes, resulting in lower quality of work: 14%.

When asked what they think is causing the skills shortage, employers offered the following opinions:

– Not enough graduating in in-demand fields: 52%

– Lack of interest in required fields: 48%

– Employers and candidates have different expectations: 41%

– Entry-level jobs are becoming more complex: 37%

– Lack of funding in necessary training: 36%

– Rapid changes in technology: 34%

– Increased competition for candidates: 33%.

In effort to overcome these challenges, many employers are taking matters into their own hands and training workers on the job; 46% of employers say they have hired a low-skilled worker and trained him/her for a higher-skill job within their firms in the past two years. When asked how this practice has affected their firms, employers cited the following benefits:

– Increased employee motivation: 50%

– Improved employee loyalty: 47%

– It enabled us to be more competitive: 46%

– It enabled us to meet department goals: 41%.

For some employers, automation may be the answer to their staffing challenges. Three in 10 employers (28%) foresee certain jobs at their organizations being replaced by technology in the next decade. When asked which areas they see being replaced by technology, employers identified the following:

– Customer service: 42%

– IT: 34%

– Shipping/Distribution: 32%

– Accounting/Finance: 27%

– Sales: 12%.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted among 500 employees and 400 hiring managers in Canada. The interviews were conducted online by Redshift Research in June & July 2015 using an email invitation and an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. In this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 4.4 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.