Canadian employers are taking an optimistic view on business activities heading into 2017, but hiring issues as a result of a national IT skills shortage have become worrisome, a new study from Hays Specialist Recruitment Canada reveals.
The seventh annual Hays Salary Guide reports that two-thirds of respondents expect their business activity to increase in 2017, and confidence in a strengthening Canadian economy rose by 19 per cent. Regionally, British Columbia leads the way, with 40 per cent believing Canada’s economy will improve in 2017, followed by Quebec (39 per cent) and Ontario (33 per cent).
The guide notes that the Canadian IT sector, in particular, is among the most confident and stable in the country.
The Hays Salary Guide surveyed more than 4,000 employers and employees across Canada and offers insight into the many factors that impact Canadian employer strategy and sentiment. It says business growth expectations are 10 points higher than in 2015, but despite the optimism, operations will remain relatively unchanged. Fifty-five per cent of employers say they will increase salaries by three per cent or less – with only 48 per cent of IT employers considering the same move – while one-third plan to increase headcount and half plan to stick with current staff numbers after a year of widespread economic instability.
In the IT world, retaining talent has been an issue. While 20 per cent of employers are unsure if their salaries are competitive with the market rate, 64 per cent believe the main reason behind retention challenges is the competitive market for top candidates.
And although Alberta was hit hard by low oil prices this year, with 38 per cent of respondents saying the downturn affected their activities, 41 per cent of oil and gas employers believe business will grow in 2017.
“The past year was punctuated by stories about global economic upheaval but, here in Canada, the mood is one of pragmatic optimism,” Rowan O’Grady, president of Hays Canada, said in a press release from Nov. 29. “Hays’ national data shows employers are acutely aware of what’s happening around them and have chosen to put business stability ahead of risk. They’re treading water with confidence and we think that’s a good thing. Canada takes the occasional knock for always playing it safe and I have to say this desire for stability makes more sense now than ever before.”
However, one troublesome and widespread trend comes in the form of hiring. Responding employers say a lack of training has contributed to Canada’s skills shortage, but only two per cent of them have offered training for their employees. Expanding on this, O’Grady also points out that employers are ill-equipped to effectively recruit staff, with only a small proportion of hiring managers saying they have the skills required to assess candidates for a position when hiring.