We’ve all heard plenty about Canada’s labour shortage by now, but a new StatsCan report shows that understanding the state of the job market is way more complicated than counting the number of “help wanted” signs.
Driving the news: There were 856,000 job vacancies in Canada by the end of last year and about 49,000 more people than that looking for work, according to the StatCan analysis.
That’s a significantly tighter labour market than immediately before the pandemic, when there were 509,000 job vacancies and almost twice that looking for work.
- It’s not, however, a labour shortage in the true sense of the term—it still means there are more people looking for work than there are open roles in the economy.
Yes, but: The picture looks very different when you compare jobs that require a high school education or less with those that require a post-secondary degree or skilled trade.
There are 359,000 vacant jobs that require at least some post-secondary education and 549,000 unemployed workers who fit that bill, meaning for each job there are around 1.5 job seekers.
- But for jobs that require a high school education or less, there are 497,000 vacancies and only 366,000 job seekers—a true labour shortage.
Why it matters: The data suggests that Canada’s “labour shortage” is contained to jobs that don’t require post-secondary education—beyond that, the problem employers are facing isn’t really too few workers.
That doesn’t mean employers will find hiring people with degrees easy. The skills of unemployed people won’t match up perfectly with what employers are looking for.
Plus, regulatory barriers—like strict licensing rules that block some immigrants from working in their field once arriving in Canada—limit the hiring pool.
Bottom line: Insofar as there is a labour shortage in Canada, it’s concentrated in jobs that don’t require higher education. Ramping up immigration of people with post-secondary training, as the federal government is doing now, isn’t going to solve that problem.—TS