Skilled Trades Shortage Holding Back The Region
There’s good news and bad news on the jobs’ front in the Windsor Census Metropolitan area.
First the very good news. The July unemployment data from Statistics Canada puts us at 6.2%, which is below the national (6.9%) and Ontario (6.4%) averages. Pretty amazing when you consider we were a national high, 15.4% in July of 2009.
The latest data needs to be tempered by the youth jobless rate of 13.4%, although that number has declined from 18.6% in June.
Now the bad news. The rate would be a lot lower if we could only convince more youth to pursue careers in skilled trades. A new quarterly employer survey released by Workforce WindsorEssex tells the tragic tale.
While the sample size is not huge it provides hard data to validate what people like Workforce Executive Director Tanya Antoniw have been hearing anecdotally, that good jobs are going begging. As St. Clair College Chair of School Trades Rob Chittam puts it: “There are more jobs than students.”
Of 83 respondents, 43 employers report they have positions that are hard to fill — with 16% of those in manufacturing and 21% in construction. The top three reasons for the shortage in the labour pool are lack of technological skills, lack of qualifications and not enough applicants.
The top hard-to-fill positions include welders, early childhood educators, machinists, mould makers, robotics technicians and die designers.
It appears that a good dollop of potential workers aren’t attuned to that kind of labour. A total of 234 left their positions in the three month timeframe of the survey. Of those, 48% quit and 17% were fired. The remaining 35% were retirements, layoffs and other.
Workforce WindsorEssex is trying to tackle the skills shortage challenges on several fronts. Funded at close to $1 million annually, mostly from Ontario government grants, the staff of 13 collects hard data to measure current and future labour market opportunities in the region through research, communication and partnerships.