Mind the gap: The need for skilled workers continues to impact Alberta business
Skills, training and labour market research
Edmonton, AB — In a recent research conducted by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce (ACC) network, employers share insights on challenges when hiring candidates with the needed technical or people skills for their company.
The research was conducted through the Alberta Perspectives community, garnering insights from business community members. Data was collected from 260 self-identified members of the business community throughout Alberta, between October 31st and December 3rd, 2023.
Skills In Short Supply
If it feels like you are reposting the same job ad on repeat, you're not alone. Almost eight-in-ten organizations report they have experienced a skills shortage in the last year or two.
Adding to the hiring challenge, employers report that a large proportion of new staff hired direct from high school, and to a lesser degree post-secondary institutions, do not have the technical or people skills required to be workforce ready.
If you've been hesitant to take on a student, keep in mind that opportunities for authentic workplace experiences while in high school or post-secondary could be impactful for employers, not just students, years down the road. We'll explore that further in a moment.
Adapt to Survive
Employers are having to adapt to shortfalls in a variety of ways, which is not ideal for a growing or expanding company. Most often this includes choosing to adjust to being short on some skills, or lowering expectations on the level of skills they can hire.
Employers that simply can't adjust expectations while sustaining operations are having to look elsewhere. One-quarter have had to hire out of province to find the skills they need, increasing to one-third when the biggest hiring challenge is technical skills.
Having to resort to these measures for high demand skilled workers highlights the importance of credential recognition and micro-credential training, and the benefit of both for Alberta's job creators.
Where Do We Grow From Here?
Regarding those authentic workplace experiences mentioned earlier, let's explore Work Integrated Learning, which provides students with the opportunity to apply their learning from academic studies to relevant experiences and reciprocate learning back to their studies.
Employers can "trial run" student candidates while they become more work force ready. A significant majority of employers use this time to see if a student could be a good fit for their organization, and recognize that they are preparing and supporting students prior to entering the workforce. It's also a chance to discover new ideas and perspectives from a student lens.
Forty five percent of job creators indicate they would consider providing Work Integrated Learning opportunities to post-secondary students as a strategy to recruit or acquire skilled workers.
Use your team to build up the mentorship capacity within your organization to make Work Integrated Learning easier. Half of the organizations reported that there are non-trade skills and occupations used in their organization where on-the-job learning can replicate the apprenticeship type model to develop the talent they need.
Another way organizations have addressed skills gaps is by enhancing their internal training or working with local post-secondary institutions to develop the skills they need. Connect with an educational or training organization in your community to explore skills development options.
Remember, a skills gap analysis isn't a one time thing, it's an ongoing commitment to understanding, developing and optimizing the skill sets within an organization.