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Posted by Rowan O'Grady, Hays Canada President, on Tuesday, Dec 29, 2015
If you've been following the news, you'll have seen articles in the Globe and Mail and Financial Post about expected salary freezes and potential job cuts in Canada's oil and gas industry. The Hays 2016 Salary Guide results do show that that industry is conservative about 2016 hiring and salaries, but that's not the only story we're seeing.
The commodity market downturn has dominated the news cycle, but our results show that it's not dominating most Canadian employers' plans for 2016.
What are HR leaders in your region or industry planning for 2016?
Unsurprisingly, Albertan employers are feeling the biggest effect from the downturn. Fifty–two per cent said their business activity decreased in 2015 and a large number (43%) of Alberta employers were forced to make the unfortunate decision to reduce staff. The impact of this decline in business and cuts to staff are clearly reflected in employers’ 2016 outlook, with just 14 per cent believing that it will strengthen in 2016. There are however, some small but encouraging glimmers of hope within Alberta, with 48 per cent saying it will remain the same.
More than half (53%) plan to maintain their current staff levels in 2016 and one–third believe business will pick up during the year, which suggests that many feel the economic downturn has leveled–off. This will be an interesting story to watch in 2016. If the price of oil does begin to recover as global forecasts indicate, Alberta could see a big spike in recovery results midway throughout the year.
British Columbia is the most optimistic region with 35% saying the economy will strengthen and only 15% saying it will get worse. More than half (56%) say business activity went up in 2015, and 66 per cent expect further increases in 2016.
This is translating into higher hiring plans, with 40% increasing headcount in 2015 and 41% saying they will do the same in 2016. An important note here - if 66% of employers expect business activity to increase in 2016, but only 41% plan to increase headcount we're seeing a significant number trying to do more with less, which was one of the major themes we saw this time last year.
Ontario looks more similar to BC than to Alberta, with 53% saying business activity increased in 2015 and 65 per cent saying it will increase again in 2016. Almost a third say the economy will improve and around 55% saying it will remain stable. More than a third increased hiring in 2015 (37%) and intend to do the same in 2016 (38%).
So what we're seeing is that despite the fact that oil and gas has made headlines throughout the year, the impact of the industry changes is very localized.
What does this mean for employers?
Don't assume that a downturn in one area will mean that there is more talent available in your region or industry. We're still seeing skills shortages in a number of areas, so employers can't let their focus on talent attraction and retention slip.
I would also note that we're not seeing downward pressure on salaries in most regions or industries. In fact, as some Alberta workers move to Ontario they are bringing higher salary expectations with them and we're seeing that cause upward pressure in some industries.