Help Wanted: Canadian Businesses Struggle to Find Workers

Dairy Queen sign that reads "Closed due to labour shortage."

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY MOLLY SIMPSON / SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY

Canada’s worker shortage due to COVID-19 is affecting businesses around Brantford, creating a struggle to find workers and fill jobs.  

A short walk through downtown Brantford will show many businesses with “Help Wanted” signs in their windows.  

“When the pandemic first hit… Everyone was very stressed. People were losing summer jobs,  co-op work terms,” said Lisa Favero, manager of employer relations and recruitment at Laurier’s  Career Centre.  

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has seen a reversal and is now seeing worker  shortages in many industries.  

Many feel that this shortage is to blame on certain government subsidies such as the Canadian  Emergency Response Benefit and other effects of the pandemic. Favero agrees that COVID-19  has compacted the problem.  

Even though many government subsidies have ended and reopening has begun, the worker  shortage has continued.  

Favero states that what is to blame for this issue is an aging population. As more workers retire,  there are less people to take their spots in the workforce. 

In some harder hit sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing and retail, workers are going back  to school or switching to different professions. This was increased after the initial lockdowns as  many people lost their jobs and were forced to take the above measures.  

Now, many businesses are struggling to find workers.

On Navigator, Laurier’s online hub where students can find job postings and volunteer postings,  Favero states that there has been an increase in businesses looking for student workers. 

One of these businesses is the Laurier Brantford YMCA.  

Finding workers “definitely has not been as easy as it has been in the past,” said Shannon Davis,  general manager of the Laurier Brantford YMCA.  

When they initially closed their doors in the first lockdown, many of their staff were laid off.  Now, as their capacity increases, their need for staff does too. 

The struggle to find workers is emphasized by the fact that some of their positions, such as lifeguards, require specific qualifications.  

To try to appeal to students, some businesses have started to offer more incentives such as higher  wages and better benefits. As well, to incentivize young graduates and students to apply, some  businesses are targeting their positions and applications to help deal with the transition from  post-secondary education to the workforce.  

“We try to work with people’s schedules and reading week and winter break and classes and  try to be really flexible and understand that we are a campus building as well,” said Davis.  

The hope is that by offering the flexibility that students need, the Laurier Brantford YMCA can  be a welcoming workplace for students and incentivize them to apply. 

“I think if businesses want students to apply, they need to make it clear that they are willing to  accommodate students,” said Lisa Fehr, a third year social work student.  

She feels that oftentimes, many businesses are not willing to make room for the flexibility that  many students need in their schedules, potentially causing a lack of students to apply.  

With many businesses currently hiring, Fehr feels that it may be easy for students to find jobs to  apply to, but it is still difficult for them to secure the positions. This is because despite the  worker shortage, the job hunting process often remains competitive.

Although many businesses are currently looking for employees, the hiring process stays  competitive and daunting for many students. 

“I think there is a lot of choice out there and that in itself can be overwhelming,” said Favero.  To help with this, Favero encourages students to seek assistance at the Career Centre.  “Let us help support you through the process,” said Favero.  

At the Career Centre, Students can speak one-on-one with career advisors, review resumes and  cover letters, and get help with the interview process, as well as other services.  

For help with anything career related, students can visit the Career Centre’s website:  https://students.wlu.ca/work-leadership-and-volunteering/career-and-employment support/career-centre/index.html.

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