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Posted By Jim Fearon, Vice President, on Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014
Despite what most people would say was a disappointing 2013 for business in the oil and gas and resources and mining industries, optimism remains high for 2014 among employers, as noted in our 2014 Hays Salary Guide.
The report found there was an 11 point difference between forecasted and actual decreases in business activity last year in the oil and gas industry. Eighteen per cent of Canadian companies surveyed experienced a dip in activity in 2013, even though only seven per cent said at the start of the year they were expecting one (as cited in the Calgary Herald). In the Mining sector, 11 per cent of employers forecasted a dip in business activity, yet 42 per cent experienced one, causing an unfortunate decrease in permanent positions (as cited in the Canadian Mining Journal).
2014 proves to be a different story however, as Canadian employers have a renewed sense of optimism. In the mining sector, almost half (45%) expect business activity to increase in the upcoming year, and as a result, a quarter of employers are planning on adding permanent staff to their workforce. And more positively, approximately 50 per cent of oil and gas employers plan to increase their permanent workforce in 2014. In the oil and gas industry for example, 2013 wasn't necessarily a bad year, just not as good of a year as employers had wanted it to be. It comes down to timing of projects. 2014 is positioned to be a busy year with appropriate approvals of key projects(as cited in the Financial Post).
With optimism in the air and plans for hiring taking action, Canada's skill shortage will play a significant role in employers recruitment. In the mining sector, 75 per cent of employers say they are experiencing a moderate to significant shortage (cited in Mining Weekly), and in the oil and gas industry, 66 per cent of employers are experiencing the same levels of skills shortages. If business activity picks up this year as expected, we anticipate these statistics to rise.
There are options for Canadian companies that are frustrated by an inability to find skilled professionals, particularly at the mid management level where there is additional pressure to fill vacancies. It is possible to hire a slightly less experienced candidate with transferable skills who can be trained and mentored to develop into the ideal employee. However, employers will have to invest more in their human capital to achieve the desired results.
Succession planning should also play a role. Knowledge transfer will become a key issue for many companies that will lose the baby boomer generation to retirement in the coming years. While 58 per cent of companies have or are implementing a succession plan, that number is too low. Unsuccessfully transferring knowledge from one demographic to the next will only serve to exacerbate shortages in all industries.