BUSINESS
06/12/2019 14:46 EDT | Updated 06/12/2019 15:08 EDT

The Country Has Never Had This Many Open Jobs. Take Advantage, Canadians

Employees are increasingly "in the driver's seat" when it comes to work, especially in construction and personal services.

Darwin Brandis via Getty Images

Now may be an ideal time to shop around for a new job with better pay and benefits, or a better career track.

Canada’s labour shortage hit another record high in the first quarter of 2019, with 425,000 jobs nationwide going unfilled for 90 days or more, according to a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

As is often the case, there are wide regional differences. Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario saw the largest labour shortages, with Quebec’s record 120,800 unfilled jobs amounting to more than one in 25 jobs available in the province.

Oil-producing and Maritime provinces registered the smallest labour shortages, to no one’s surprise.

CFIB/HuffPost Canada

By industry, the largest labour shortage was in construction, where 4.9 per cent ― or nearly one in 20 ― jobs are going unfilled. The personal services sector ― which can include anything from legal services to care for the elderly ― had the second largest shortage.

At the other end, jobs in arts, entertainment and recreation, and jobs in finance, insurance and real estate saw the fewest vacancies.

CFIB/HuffPost Canada

The CFIB survey squares with what we’ve been hearing in the news lately: That Canada’s job market is on fire. Statistics Canada reported last week that the unemployment rate hit 5.4 per cent in May, the lowest in comparable data going back to 1976.

“With that many unfilled positions, one would think it’s a candidate’s market,” said Koula Vasilopoulos, district president for human resource consulting firm Robert Half.

Job-seekers are feeling more confident, Vasilopoulos said, and are starting to look for more than just a paycheque. Meanwhile, the pressure is on employers to attract talent.

“We’re seeing more interest in what else is part of the package outside of pay,” she told HuffPost Canada in an interview, noting that job-seekers are paying more attention to the cost of living in communities where they’re being offered work.

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“Some of the things that are becoming more and more key are areas like career paths. Candidates are asking more detailed questions about ways to advance in the organization,” she said.

Things have ”switched a little bit,” Vasilopoulos mused. “Ten, 15 years ago, it was the employer in the driver’s seat, with employees selling themselves to the employer. Today, it’s more balanced.”

But while it certainly helps wage-earners, a labour shortage could hurt the economy if it gets too intense, Vasilopoulos suggested.

“If it swings too far the other side, then you end up with poor hiring decisions. You end up with an imbalanced market where companies make poor choices.”