It’s a job seeker’s market in Canada and employers are still struggling to fill roles with many positions remaining open for more than 60 days.
To get more perspective, Indeed economist Brendon Bernard shares his thoughts on the regional labour market and hard-to-fill roles.
Specialized engineering roles in very different sectors, such as software engineering manager (#1) and senior geotechnical engineer (#2), an expert in soil, in addition to real estate associate (#3), are the three most difficult-to-fill roles, with 57% of jobs remaining vacant for 60 days or more. Rounding the top five in western Canada, we find technical program manager (#4), which also requires coding knowledge, and psychiatrist (#5) both represented 55% of hard-to-fill jobs. The latter is not that surprising as mental healthcare access and psychiatrist shortage, especially in British Columbia, have been debated in the media recently.
According to Bernard, tech roles stand-out as taking long to fill. “Employment in the sector is growing quickly, but the strong competition for talent between employers makes filling individual roles difficult. The resource extraction sector in Western Canada might be facing tough times, but it is still difficult to find geotechnical engineers, suggesting opportunities remain, but they often require highly specialized skills.”
Bernard also explains that Western Canada highlights how labour market conditions are varying across provinces. British Columbia has made significant progress in recent years, while conditions in Alberta remain weaker than they were prior to the fall in oil prices.
Highly-specialized engineers are also difficult to find in Ontario
Senior test engineer (#1), a tech profession that evaluates products, proves to be the most difficult to find talent for, with 58% of jobs remaining vacant more than 60 days.The most populous province in Canada also finds it difficult to find senior mining engineers, with senior geotechnical engineer coming in second on the list with 55% of available roles long remaining vacant. However, solutions engineer, which is more of a leadership role interacting with technical support and sales, comes in third with 45%.
Speciality in the health sector can also be a headache, with infusion registered nurse, who specializes in the administration of medications and fluids, coming in at number four (45%). Last year, that profession was in the top 10 nationwide of hard-to-fill health care roles. Civil designer, who deals with municipal infrastructure, completes the top five with the same percentage.
Bernard explains that the Ontario job market is showing both strengths and weaknesses. On one side, there’s been strong growth in certain higher-paying fields, tech being a notable standout. In contrast, conditions aren’t great for those without postsecondary education.
Quebec has one of the lowest unemployment rates, so talent is scarce
In September, Quebec was tied with B.C. for Canada’s lowest unemployment rate, which is going to make it more challenging to fill lots of different types of job openings, as Bernard explains. Statistics Canada found that Quebec had the highest share of job openings remaining vacant for over 60 days in the second quarter of 2019, suggesting hiring difficulties for many roles because more of the workforce is already employed.
Because of increased demand and competition, tech is also well represented in this regional list, with software developer (#1) seeing 50% of opportunities remaining vacant for at least two months and programmer (#4) having 47% of its jobs unfilled for at least 60 days. Engineering is also a pain point in the French-speaking province with electrical (47%) and structural engineer (46%) in third and fifth respectively. One job that stands out from other regions is optician, a provider of eyeglasses and contact lenses, which is actually the second most hard-to-fill job in the province (49%), but that may become a national challenge, since the Government of Canada expects labour shortage for opticians in the country over the next decade.
Atlantic Canada deals with high unemployment but still has trouble finding the right fit
According to Bernard, unemployment rates in Atlantic Canada are higher than the national average. Still, it can be tough to find workers to fill a number of niche roles requiring specific and rarer skills.
Tech talent often being attracted to major tech hubs in big cities, it makes it difficult to fill some roles in smaller areas. As such, senior java developer (50%) and senior software engineer (41%) open and close-out the top five in that region, at number one and number five. Psychologists (#2) are in high demand in that region, with 48% of roles long remaining vacant. Still in the health sector, pharmacy technician appears on the list at number four (41%) while equipment operator arrives just above (#3), with the same percentage.
We can see that specialities are required in varied sectors across the country. This impacts different industries and company sizes who struggle to fill roles with special skills when it’s a job seeker’s market. Smaller businesses also have to contend with the competition from larger companies.
When your pool of qualified candidates is small, whether it be because of the particular skills needed or because of the high competition, you have to be able to be seen by the right candidate at the right time and to use the tools accessible to you. A few tips are:
- Think like a marketer and utilize your social media platforms as well as targeted advertising.
- Become more proactive, and search resumes and contact talent yourself.
- Work on your employer branding and share what makes you unique and what you have to offer to those specialized professionals who, after all, have a lot of choices.
Data represents roles open for longer than 60 days in Canada during the first half of 2019 in Western Canada, Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. While job postings can be open for longer than 60 days for many reasons, Indeed uses this measure as a proxy for difficulty in hiring. Due to data restrictions, we are unable to meaningfully analyze Northern Canada.