The labour shortage is all your fault!

Dr. Linda Duxbury

Dr. Linda Duxbury

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If you are a member of the baby boom generation, Canada's labour shortage is all your fault, Dr. Linda Duxbury, a professor from Carleton University, told delegates at the Saskatchewan Hotels and Hospitality (SHHA) conference in Regina last week.

In order for a society to regenerate itself, it needs 2.1 children per couple, while Canada has a birth rate of just 1.5. The last time we achieved that [sustainable] birth rate was in 1969. And people are living longer, with the average Canadian life expectancy now 83 years compared to just 41 in 1900.

“You boomers didn't have the courtesy to die young,” Duxbury said. “And it's not just boomers, but gen X — you too did not procreate! For the foreseeable future, there are no kids!”

Duxbury noted that a dramatic increase in immigration is needed. Canada currently admits about 240,000 immigrants, 40 per cent of whom get jobs. By 2026, we will need 600,000 to 800,000 labour force ready immigrants. Not only can we not assimilate that many immigrants, but we can't attract them, Duxbury said. Most of the developed world faces the same labour shortage problem, leaving immigrants with low levels of education from underdeveloped countries. 

Within Canada, there is also a job skills mismatch — people without jobs and jobs without people. People who got good manufacturing jobs after grade 12 or 13 have found that those jobs are gone, never to return because Canada can't compete. “Those people are in their 40s now, and they're not suitable for [the hospitality industry]. We have to reskill them,” said Duxbury. “We need to spend more money on reskilling than on temporary foreign workers.”

Duxbury made some suggestions regarding what has to be done.

o   We need to have discussions and do things differently with First Nations groups;

o  We have to sell our industry much differently to both young people and their parents; 

o  Electricians and plumbers make much more than hospitality workers and we have to deal with that; 

o  Becoming Employers of Choice will make our businesses more attractive; 

o  Offer employees education and training; and

o  It's a big enough industry that we should band together to provide solutions.