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On-The-Job Training: The Solution To The Skills Shortage

As the economy begins to slowly bounces back, employers are struggling to fill open positions. But it isn’t because there are fewer workers looking for employment – it’s because those workers seeking jobs don’t necessarily have the right skills.

According to a new CareerBuilder.ca survey, half of employers feel there is a shortage of skilled workers in Canada. Due to this skills gap between what employers want and job seekers possess, positions are staying open for extended periods of time: 3 in 10 employers currently have positions in their organization that, on average, stay open for 12 weeks or longer.

The cause

With a 7 per cent unemployment rate in Canada, there are plenty of workers available – and willing – to fill open positions. Yet, employers believe that the jobseekers applying for their open vacancies don’t have the right mix of skills. Why? Fifty-two per cent don’t think there are enough workers graduating in in-demand fields, while 48 per cent believe there’s a lack of interest in required fields.

Other reasons employers offered as to what’s causing the skills shortage include: employers and candidates have different expectations (41 per cent), entry-level jobs are becoming more complex (37 per cent), a lack of funding in necessary training (36 per cent), and rapid changes in technology (34 per cent). Thirty-three per cent of employers do cite increased competition for candidates as the cause, showing that the improving economy may be to blame for some of the shortage.

The impact

According to the study, of those employers with extended job vacancies, 75 per cent say the openings have adversely affected their organization. Not only does it cost employers money when a position sits open for a long period of time, it can negatively impact the morale and productivity of their staff – and ultimately their bottom line. The top way employers say extended vacancies negatively affect their firm is that work does not get done (31 per cent). Twenty-six per cent cite lower morale due to employees bearing heavier workloads, while 24 per cent say it causes delays in delivery times.

The solution

In order to combat the skills shortage, employers have had to take matters into their own hands. Instead of waiting for the worker with the perfect combination of education, background and skills, they are seeing the potential in job seekers who may not be the right fit on paper, but with a little training, could be successful at their organization.

Forty-six per cent of employers say they have hired a low-skilled worker and trained him or her for a higher-skill job within their organizations in the last two years. And employers have reaped benefits from doing so. Some of the positive outcomes of on-the-job training include: increased employee motivation (50 per cent), improved employee loyalty (47 per cent), ability to be more competitive (46 per cent) and ability to meet department goals (41 per cent).

“Companies nationwide are feeling the effect of a skills gap, from lower morale to higher retention rates to a loss of revenue,” says Ryan Lazar, managing director of CareerBuilder Canada. “Our findings indicate, however, that taking proactive efforts to train and reskill workers can go a long way in overcoming these challenges. While we still have a long way to go, the more we can identify the root of these challenges, the more opportunities we will find to bridge this gap.”

 

Debra Auerbach researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.

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