Toronto skills shortage: 22% increase in unfilled vacancies

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Don't get hung up on the job description, advises recruitment firm Robert Walters. Focus instead on a candidate's willingness to learn and new skills they've picked up. PHOTO by Pexels.

Toronto has seen a 22% increase in the number of new jobs roles that remain unfilled– as companies continue to battle with an acute talent shortage in the city.

With over 150,000 jobs added to the economy this year, coupled with record levels of unemployment in the wider Ontario area, fears are growing that there is not enough local talent to support the growth of the region.

The shortage – driven to a large part by changing demographics, with workers retiring at a faster rate than they can be replaced – has put a strain on employers, many of which have had to alter recruitment practices to ease hiring pressures.

A poll, from specialist recruitment firm Robert Walters found that an overwhelming 44% of employers in Ontario would consider a candidate’s ‘potential’ over qualifications and experience – with a further third stating that they would not hesitate to hire from different industries if a candidate has at least ‘some’ transferable skills.

“Employers have been dealing with a lack of talent across Toronto for some time now – and this skills gap will not be filled overnight,” Martin Fox, Managing Director of Robert Walters – Canada, comments. “For organisations to continue to develop and grow, employers should not be afraid to look internally for talent. Many employees have transferable skills and, with the right training, can be upskilled to bring great value to a business.”

This all comes at a time where The Bank of Canada confirmed that interest rates have been capped, despite inflation being significantly higher than the target level. With wages increasing by just 4.5% currently this is below the headline inflation rate, so is doing little to nothing to lure talent away from other companies.

“Employers are in a catch-22; they need the talent, but also turbulent balance sheets are preventing them from offering the types of inflated salaries which look appealing in this market,” Fox comments.

Fox shares his top tips on how to recruit in a talent short market:

  • Don’t get hung up on the job description: often the majority of what is on a job spec is process-driven tasks or can be taught internally, so don’t worry if they haven’t done some elements of the job before. Instead, tune into their willingness to learn and what new skills they have they picked up lately.
  • Ask your network for recommendations: this works well in workplaces that have a positive culture and motivated staff – they are your best recruiters! Offer an incentive for them to bring prospective candidates to the table, before the interview has even begun, they would have sold the company values on your behalf.  
  • Compete on more than just salary: we are working in a time where people value more than just their monetary benefits. A workplace with a positive work-life balance and other perks such as great healthcare, social incentives, and flexible working are all drivers for top talent. Invest in your culture and shout about it in the right way.
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