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Dan Kelly


Looking for Work? Apply to a Small Business

Posted: 11/14/2012 12:55 pm

Back in June, I wrote a newspaper column that defended Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's comment that there are no "bad jobs" out there. Suffice it to say, my column received a decidedly mixed review from readers!

Finding yourself out of work can be a scary and demoralizing experience, and I sympathize with Canadians who are unemployed or are looking for a specific position in their chosen field. And while the economy in parts of the country can certainly be better, I have news for the doomsayers: small business owners say they have thousands upon thousands of open jobs in almost all sectors, including construction, manufacturing, hospitality and retail.

This news comes from a survey of small business owners titled Help Wanted that was recently published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). The survey found the percentage of unfilled jobs in the private sector rose from 2.3 per cent in the second quarter to 2.4 per cent in the July to September period. That's up from 1.7 per cent in late 2009 during the depths of the recession. Generally speaking, as the unemployment rate has fallen since that time, the number of unfilled jobs has gone up.

A vacancy rate of 2.4 per cent is equivalent to nearly 275,900 full-and-part-time private sector jobs. If you break those numbers down by sector, you find the construction industry has a job vacancy rate of 3.7 per cent, or 30,200 jobs. Manufacturing (2.1 per cent), hospitality (2.9 per cent) and retail (2.2 per cent) have lower vacancy rates, but those rates translate into 29,900, 31,600, and 39,900 unfilled jobs, respectively.

And these aren't just positions that become open one day and filled the next. We define job vacancies as openings that have been vacant for at least four months because business owners have been unable to find staff. The current results are based on over 2,500 responses from the last quarter, and the series itself is based on 72,012 responses going back to 2004.

The Help Wanted survey shows a range of vacancy rates by province (not surprisingly, Alberta and Saskatchewan are quite high), and by the size of business. Large enterprises (those with 500 or more employees) are short about 1.4 per cent of their workforce, while smaller businesses -- firms with fewer than 19 employees -- have vacancy rates averaging 4.3 per cent in the latest quarter.

What does this mean? While some job seekers pursue openings in larger firms, many forget to consider the thousands of small companies that exist in every region of Canada. Consider the advantages of working in a small business -- particularly if you are looking to take steps up the experience ladder. Yes, some small firms may struggle to offer the same salary and benefits of their larger counterparts, but jobs in small firms offer many advantages. Given their size, jobs in small firms are often far more diverse than in a large business. There is greater access to decision makers and often a great deal more flexibility to balance work and personal goals.

Experienced job-searchers know that you can't just apply to advertised positions if you want to land a job. Sometimes, it pays to cold-call, or email your resume to companies that you believe might be a good fit for your skills and experience. Using informal networks -- like friends or clubs and volunteer organizations -- is also a good way to learn who is hiring or even meet an entrepreneur directly.

Folks, there are a lot of hard-working entrepreneurs out there who want to hire new employees, but they may not have the money or expertise to advertise on-line. These jobs aren't always easy to find, but they do exist. If you're looking for work, seek them out.

Dan Kelly is President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Learn more about CFIB at www.cfib.ca.

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  • WORST: Administrative & support - 6

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Manufacturing - 4.3

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Education - 4.3

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Construction - 3.9

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Retail trade - 3.4

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Professional, scientific & technical - 3.2

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Accommodation and food services - 3

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • Wholesale trade - 2

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

  • BEST: Health care, social assistance - 1.4

    Number of job seekers for every available job. Source: StatsCan

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  • 7. Huge Regional Disparities

    Wood Mountain (includes oil rich Fort McMurray, pictured here) saw its employment level shoot up by 95% over the 2000 to 2011 period, while forestry based Miramichi suffered the biggest decline of 63% in job numbers.<br> <br> Two out of 33 Census Metropolitan Areas (Windsor and Thunder Bay) had fewer jobs in 2011 than in 2000 while 13 of 45 smaller cities were in this situation. In 2011, only 5.5% of the labour force in Wood Mountain were unemployed while 16.4% were unemployed in Miramichi.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>

  • 6. Jobs Up, Wages Down

    The unemployment rate jumped from a near record low of 6.1% in October 2008 to a high of 8.7% high in August 2009 and has declined slowly since then to 7.2% in March 2012. In spite of the recovery, unemployment duration increased again in 2011.<br> <br> There was a another slight decrease in the number of discouraged job searchers in 2011, who just quit looking because they believed that nothing suitable was available, but their numbers were still 50% above pre-recession levels. Actual hours worked at all jobs advanced to 36.4 hours in 2011 up 24 minutes from the all-time low of 36 hours in 2009.<br> <br> Real (after removing inflation) average weekly wages fell by 0.5% in 2011 following an increase of only 0.2% in 2010. This helps explain why the number of workers who have more than one job climbed for a third straight year to a record 5.4% in 2011. Women (6.4%) are now more likely to have a second job than are men (4.5%) while both were the same (4.6%) in 1989.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>

  • 5. Bad News For Working Parents

    In 2011, the employment rate for lone-parent mothers (55%), lone-parent fathers (79%) and mothers with an employed husband present (70%) all with children under the age of six continued to be below their prerecession peaks. The only exception in 2011 was for women with a non-employed husband for whom the employment rate (53%) was above the pre-recession rate.<br> <br> The "monetary" value of childcare remains undervalued. In 2011, childcare and home support workers working full-time (30 hours or more per week) earned an average of $598 per week. This was the third lowest behind full-time chefs and cooks ($545) and retail sales persons ($589). On a more detailed level, babysitters, nannies and parent helpers were the lowest paid occupation from among over 700 occupations in the 2006 Census.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>

  • 4. Manufacturing Still Struggling

    After eight years of decline, the manufacturing sector created only 15,900 jobs in 2011. Employment in 2011 was about where it was in 1993 and down by 532,200 jobs since the peak in 2004.<br> <br> Based on employment growth over the 2000 to 2011 period, the most rapidly expanding industries in Canada were mining and oil and gas extraction (+70.3%) and construction (+56.4%). Other leading growth industries (all service related) included professional, scientific, technical services (+39.9%), health care and social assistance (+37.9%) and real estate and leasing (+30.1%). <br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>

  • 3. Labour Shortages

    For 2011 as a whole, eight (35%) out of the 23 major occupations were in a shortage situation, compared to six occupations in the previous year but still much less than the 10 occupations before the recession began. When examined from an industry basis, there were shortages in five (25%) of the 20 sectors in 2011, up from four during the previous year. <br> <br> In 2011, the unemployment rate among professional occupations in health, nurse supervisors and registered nurses stood at only 0.8%. Unemployment was only 1.9% in technical, assisting and related occupations in health and in professional occupations in business and finance. Demographics point to more shortages in the medium-term.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>

  • 2. Alberta - The Youth Job-Bringer

    Based on a ranking of 10 youth related indicators, Alberta was the best place for youth in 2011 followed by Saskatchewan in 2nd spot and Quebec in 3rd spot. Next in line were Manitoba (4th), Prince Edward Island (5th), British Columbia (6th), Ontario (7th), New Brunswick (8th), Newfoundland (9th) and Nova Scotia (10th).<br> <br> At the national level, recession is still the reality for youth. Youth employment plummeted by 195,400 jobs in 2009 and 2010 combined but only 19,300 jobs came back in 2011. In 2011, employment rates for all youth slipped further to 55.4% (lowest since 2000), was flat for returning students working in the summer (53.8%) but down a lot for full-time students who were working during the school year (36.6%). <br> <br> In 2011, the unemployment rate improved slightly for all youth (14.2%) but worsened for returning students working in the summer (17.4%).<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>

  • 1. A Greying Workforce

    More and more seniors are working longer. The percentage of those aged 60-64 who are employed rose from 34% in 1989 to 47% in 2011 ... a new record. The percentage of those aged 65-69 who are still working jumped from 11% in 1989 to 23% in 2011 ... another new record. The percentage of the 70 and over group who are still working increased to 6% in 2011 ... one more record high. <br> <br> Over the 1989 to 2011 period, the labour force aged 45-54 more than doubled (+108%), those aged 55-64 also more than doubled (+133%) while those aged 65 and older grew even faster (+180%). <br> <br> The recession delayed retirement for many, as record numbers of persons 60 and older remained in the paid workforce. The median retirement age among men (63.2 years) rose for a third consecutive year in 2011 and was the highest since 2003. The median age of retirement among women increased to 61.4 years in 2011 and is the second highest since 1994.<br> <br> -- <a href="http://peoplepatternsconsulting.com/pub_can_job12.html" target="_hplink">People Patterns Consulting</a>