Employers Urged To Think Ahead

Employers urged to think ahead

Karen Brownlee,
The Leader-Post
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2007

The labour shortage that Saskatchewan is experiencing is not a passing trend and those involved in an upcoming conference focused on finding and keeping employees are hoping to help employers deal with this new reality.

A two-day event is being held in Swift Current called “Think Future” on Oct. 18 and 19. It is being promoted as the first conference held in our province that focuses on labour attraction and retention.

“Obviously, Saskatchewan is facing a huge labour shortage right now,” said Britney Fisher, programs co-ordinator for the Southwest Regional Economic Development Authority. It is hosting the event in partnership with Swift Current's Chamber of Commerce labour attraction and retention committee.

“Some employers may not be experiencing anything right now, but as baby boomers retire and the millennial age is coming in, it's going to hit every employer so drastically,” she said.

To explain how acute the shortage is in Saskatchewan, Paul Martin, chairman of the Regina Regional Economic Development Authority, will speak.

“I'm not sure people have really come to grips that this labour shortage we're experiencing is here to stay. It's not a temporary aberration,” he said.

As more jobs are created, there are fewer people to fill them. While typically in Saskatchewan, immigration is first considered as the solution for population decline and labour shortages, Martin said that will have to change.

“Immigration from where? Everyone's got the same problem,” Martin said.

Couples around the world are having fewer children than is necessary even to maintain the status quo, Martin said. Africa is the only continent experiencing a higher birth rate than death rate, but Martin said unfortunately a number of those children don't reach adulthood.

“The world is going to change to the point where there are fewer people available for all employers no matter where you are,” Martin said. “You have to ask yourself: 'What are we going to do as employers and how are we going to cope?' ”

Saskatchewan is fortunate to have a population of people who could be one of the answers to this question. While the average age of the aboriginal population is quite low, there is work to do to ensure people and opportunities meet.

“They have not found their way into the workforce in the same numbers as other populations,” Martin said.

One of the sessions for the 150 or so people expected to attend the conference focuses on how to attract and retain aboriginal employees as well as those with disabilities or who immigrate to our province.

While interest in the conference has been what Fisher described as “strong,” she noted employers are being encouraged to look beyond today to launch an offence. Those interested in attending the conference have until Friday to pay their $125 and register.

“Unfortunately, I think some employers don't feel they're affected by anything right now,” Fisher said. “That's why we called it Think Future. We want them to think a little bit more ahead of the schedule.”