How To Use The Labour Shortage To Your Advantage

Posted on Wednesday 13 October 2021


Labor Shortage

As many as 64 percent of Canadian businesses are struggling to find staff right now. That’s a big labour shortage, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing any time soon.

To put it in perspective even further, there were 731,900 job vacancies by the second quarter of 2021. More than half a million jobs are open and available with no one to fill them – and businesses across Canada are feeling the strain.

Whether you’re looking for a full-time job, interested in adding on some part-time work, or considering exploring a new job entirely, this nation-wide labour shortage can work out in your favor.

How can you use the labour shortage to your advantage? We were hoping you’d ask! In the sections below, we’ll talk you through the ins and outs of the 2021 labour shortage and show you how you can make it work for you.

Industries with the highest labour shortages

Covid-19 forced businesses and industries across the globe to re-evaluate the ways that their employees work. And for many, that meant shifting to a work-from-home model (or at the very least, a hybrid model of a few days working at home, rather than a full week at the office).

Not surprisingly, the jobs that depend on face-to-face interaction are the ones that are being hit hardest by the labour shortage. From customer service to transportation to tourism, there are tons of jobs that simply cannot be performed from home.

Using the labour shortage to your advantage may mean taking a targeted approach, applying specifically to the roles where demand for workers is through the roof (and supply is nowhere to be found). Here are the industries with the highest percentages of labour shortages:

Health care and social assistance

It’s an understatement to say that healthcare professionals have played a critical role in mitigating the effects of the pandemic. But the overwhelming stress and safety concerns throughout these past two years have caused many health care workers to seek employment elsewhere.

To date, health care workers represent the largest year-over-year increase of labour shortage. From 2019 to 2021 alone, job vacancies increased by 40,800. That brings the total number of vacancies to 108,800. That’s an incredibly significant labour shortage, which becomes even more significant when considering that the effects of the pandemic are far from over.

Hospitality and service

Think of all the strain that hotels, restaurants, cafes, and bars all went through during the onslaught of Covid-19. Many were forced to close their doors and shut down for months at a time, leaving many workers to pursue employment elsewhere.

Once workers have found jobs elsewhere (perhaps in roles that allow them to work from home), where does that leave bars, restaurants, and hotels? Perhaps it’s not surprising that the service and hospitality industry is having an incredibly tough time finding staff. In fact, job vacancies for foodservice and hospitality are at an all-time high, coming in around 89,100.

Construction

Another industry impacted by labour shortages is construction, which includes trades such as masonry, carpentry, painting, and electricians. Interestingly, the total investment in construction across Canada increased by more than 7 percent in 2021 – but finding construction workers to fulfill that investment is proving difficult.

More than 35 percent of construction businesses report challenges in finding skilled workers, leaving behind a labour shortage of more than 62,000 workers.

Retail

Perhaps least surprising on the list is the retail industry (retail warriors, we feel your pain). Quarantines and social distancing restrictions made retail either non-existent or incredibly stressful, from gas stations and convenience stores to department stores and mom-and-pop shops. Retail clothing and accessories are hurting the most, with 2,900 vacancies in 2021.

While grocery store chains and pharmacies continued to operate largely as usual, retail workers went through a never-ending cycle of stress, not only from panicked shoppers overbuying toilet paper, but also from the constant fear of getting sick.

Tips for using the labour shortage to your advantage

Labour is in high demand throughout the country and those labour shortages don’t show any signs of stopping soon. That puts employers in a pinch – and while it may not seem like it, that pressure to find skilled workers actually gives you the upper hand! Here are some ways that you can use the labour shortage to your advantage:

Look for on-the-job training opportunities

Employers are scrambling to find new perks to not only keep current employees engaged, but to mitigate the strain of finding skilled workers during a labour shortage. (There’s more to this than pandemic-related shifts: current estimates put 25 percent of workers in need of upgrading skills due to changes in technology alone.)

Lack of skilled workers means that previous requirements for entry (such as college education or formal training) may no longer apply. Instead, on-the-job training is becoming a much more lucrative way for employers to train their workforce.

Rather than search for new skilled talent (and come up empty-handed), companies can tap into their existing talent pool to develop and invest in the workers that they already have. This can be a great way to not only use the shift in labour demand to deepen your own skill set, but to create a path toward a more rewarding (and higher-paying) job.

Apply for a higher-paying job

One of the side effects of a labour shortage is that employers across the country are raising their pay grades to spark job applications. Whether you’re making minimum wage or above minimum wage, it’s worth keeping an eye on job listings. Salaries are getting higher, and with the potential opportunity to get more robust on-the-job training, it might be time to make a switch to a new role.

Ask for a raise

If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to talk about a raise, now is your time! This is the perfect opportunity to sit down with your boss or supervisor and discuss the possibility of getting an increase in pay.

Offer to go through a performance review process, and reinforce external factors such as an increase in living expenses, or any additional work that you may have personally taken on due to a labour shortage.

A labour shortage sounds scary, but don’t forget that the economy naturally ebbs and flows between labour overflows and shortages. it’s a natural part of how the economy works – but with unprecedented swings in the wake of the pandemic, now is the time to make the labour shortage work to your advantage!