Alberta’s rate of unfilled private sector jobs continued to be above the national average in the third quarter of this year, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
In its Help Wanted report, which was released Tuesday, the CFIB said there were about 287,400 full and part-time positions unfilled or 2.4 per cent across the country.
It said Saskatchewan had the highest provincial vacancy rate in the country at 4.0 per cent this quarter, up from 3.9 per cent the quarter before. Alberta’s rate was the same at 3.4 per cent.
Richard Truscott, the CFIB’s Alberta director, said there were 54,700 unfilled jobs in the province.
“It’s another indication Alberta has a serious labour shortage in terms of skilled workers,” said Truscott. “So it’s further affirmation that there is indeed an issue, there’s a major problem, and we’ve got to focus on it and try to figure out some strategies to deal with it.”
He said the number of unfilled jobs in the third quarter remained fairly stable but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight in solving the issue.
“This is not a forecast. This is a snapshot of the current state of afffairs,” said Truscott. “But you would imagine just from talking to business owners, and looking at lots of other economic indicators, that this serious shortage of qualified people is going to continue for some time.”
Adam Legge, president and chief executive of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, said the CFIB report reflects the reality of the situation.
“There’s lots of opportunity for labour. There’s still high demand for labour,” said Legge.
He said small business can’t compete with bigger companies from a wage or benefit perspective.
“And so when there are fewer people than there are jobs, they’re going to migrate towards the ones that pay the best or offer the best experience,” he said. “And often small business doesn’t have the resource base to compete on some of those.”
Legge said the labour shortage will continue unless the province experiences challenges to its economy.
Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president, said in a statement that more than half the job vacancies in Canada are in small businesses that employ less than 50 people.
“These firms have unique challenges that make finding and keeping workers with the right skill set more difficult,” he said.
The CFIB said the highest number of job openings in the third quarter was in the retail, hospitality and construction sectors, with over 30,000 potential openings across the country.
Alberta’s unemployment rate in October was 4.4 per cent, the second lowest in Canada behind Saskatchewan’s 3.6 per cent.
According to the Alberta government, employment growth in the province was 74,800 people or 3.5 per cent in the past year. It was the highest annual employment growth in the country and accounted for 35 per cent of Canada’s employment growth.