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How could today’s election affect hiring plans?

Posted by Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President, on Monday, Oct 19, 2015

Blog Oct 15 Election insightElections can be nail-biting events for employers and business leaders, but preliminary results from the Hays 2016 Salary Guide survey show employers don’t think the election results will change their business activity or hiring plans – with the exception of one province.

How much impact could a change in government have on your province’s labour market?

Based on the latest Hays Global Skills Index, Canada’s talent mismatch is worse in 2015 than it was in 2014, largely based on a lack of skilled people entering the workforce, resulting in wage pressure for skilled jobs. While Canada has programs such as targeted immigration policies, and apprenticeships in the skilled trades, the government, education institutions and employers need to be working together to ensure that these programs, and the funding behind them, are targeting the right skills and industries. If these stakeholders can work together to align these efforts with the areas of highest need, we could see a medium-term reduction in that mismatch.

Anything a government can do to stimulate the Canadian economy would be good for job creation, but when we asked our clients about the effect a change in government would have, 77 per cent said their hiring plans would not change regardless of who is elected. All results discussed are preliminary and subject to change in the final report.

Overall most regions expect the economy to be stable or improve in 2016 and 57 per cent expect business activity to increase. However, if we break down those numbers by province, just one-third of Alberta employers expect to ramp up business activity, while in the rest of Canada 67 per cent say activity will increase.

We are seeing a genuine trepidation in Alberta, with employers concerned about the effect any change could have on the already turbulent provincial economy, which is the result of the oil price dropping at the end of 2014. Since the extended downturn, many oil and gas employers have been reducing activity and maintaining or decreasing headcount.

The single thing that would turn around the overall job market picture in Canada is an improvement in the price of oil and a return of confidence for employers. This will happen eventually, but when exactly is unknown and this uncertainty is causing the trepidation and cautiousness we’re seeing in Alberta. If the price of oil increases to 2014 levels within the next six to 12 months we will likely see a hiring frenzy in Alberta, and increased business activity for many industries, which will cause a quick return to the hiring pressure we saw in mid-2014.

As of today, just 23 per cent of Alberta employers intend to increase headcount in 2016 – almost half the expected increases in Ontario (41%) and Quebec (44%), and still behind the 35 per cent of British Columbia employers expecting to grow their staff numbers.

While the oil and gas downturn has affected Canada’s economy overall, these results show that the impact is being most strongly felt in Alberta. This sense of nervousness understandably increases concern around the election, with many fearing that the delicate economic situation could be exacerbated if a less business-focused government is elected.

All parties are promising the creation of jobs in their election manifestos but how much effect any government party can have in a short to medium timescale is questionable. We will see over the next five years what changes the government is able to make, but the good news is that overall Canadian employers are optimistic about the year ahead. Speaking on behalf of Hays Canada, our own business continues to increase, which is an indication that hiring plans are still moving forward and market confidence remains positive.

I encourage everyone to get out and vote on Monday. Your voice can’t be heard if you don’t take part. Find out where and how to vote on the Elections Canada website.

Do you agree with the above? What are your 2016 hiring plans? Have your say for the 2016 Hays Salary Guide.

 

Talk to Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President, on the Canadian labour market.

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