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HR News | Labour Market Changing - How Can HR Adapt?

Posted May 17th, 2016

The labour market is changing globally and in Canada. How can HR adapt to it and will our education system support it?


HRPA/2016 Annual conference

HR professionals are bombarded with information on a daily basis. New regulations, employee satisfaction, changes in management direction and shifts in corporate thinking can be overwhelming. But, the economy – a large and looming topic in its own right – must be part of HR’s thinking when looking at internal labour issues and the general bottom-line needs of the company being served.

In a keynote address at HRPA’s 2016 Annual Conference in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, discussions took place on the current world economic situation, how it links to HR professionals and why they should care.

Understanding where this economy is going will impact the labour market in Canada and globally in a very significant way.  Some of the problems facing the world economy range from a slowing Chinese economy to a faltering Euro to the stagnant Japanese economy and, of course, the slowing oil and Canadian economic sectors.

The global economy is in the midst of a transfer of wealth from producing countries to consuming countries, something that is a positive thing in world economics. A slow but still growing manufacturing sector in the U.S. and the growth of savvy and motivated consumers (such as those in China) is fueling this growth and will continue to help grow economic prospects.

In Canada, there is a tale of two economies. The first is the oil sector, which will continue to struggle for some time and the other is the service sector, which will grow.

For HR professionals, there are a few issues that have direct correlation to our community. With a low dollar and a growing U.S. economy, the Canadian economy is somewhat struggling. Our manufacturing capacity is low and any capacity growth will be “invisible.”

These companies will be creating solutions as opposed to goods. The new capacity will pose major challenges for banks and for HR professionals.  Canada is a service-oriented country. Although Statistics Canada does not measure it per-se, 45 per cent of Canada’s economy is based in the service sector.

Canadians must support this growth, which will be high-tech and value added.  One of the major issues in the economy is in our educational system and the fact that Canadians, in general, do not have the skill sets the market is looking for.  We must break the negative stigma associated with colleges.  Universities and colleges must work together to achieve a more optimal labour market.

Combining forces and having joint programs, the gap of education and the labour market can be closed. Young kids are struggling and they need help. The help is a better, more effective education system.

While Canada was able to weather the economic storm of the Great Recession, our U.S. cousins are now faring better in a post-recovery world. HR is struggling with these issues as they directly affect how our labour market adapts to economic linchpins and how best to train and educate those workers.  Action is what is required, and bridging the education and economic gaps will better aid HR’s efforts in dealing with the labour market as well as navigating the uncharted territory of the current world economic environment. 

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