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Labour Outlook 2022: the good, the bad and what's to come


GVPOD is Greater Vancouver's Business Podcast, amplifying the voice of the business community and exploring the issues impacting our region.

In our latest episode, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade President and CEO Bridgitte Anderson sat down with Boyden Canada's Board Chair and Vancouver Office Managing Partner Brent Cameron to discuss the labour shortages in our region, what to expect in the coming year and how employers can attract and retain talent in a fiercely competitive market.  

The Good: Vancouver's the top destination for job seekers

Despite a global pandemic, British Columbia was the most popular destination for individuals moving within Canada in 2021. Those trends are planned to continue, as immigration targets increase and individuals increasingly look for balance in their lifestyle, Vancouver is poised to continue to be a very attractive market for talent.

According to Cameron, many professionals are seeing our market as desirable for a variety of factors but continue to eye the cost of living in the region."Yes, it is an expensive city, and yes, our businesses have had to be competitive on the salary side of things, but we do have great schools and a wonderful environment for people to live and raise a family. B.C. has a great deal to offer to potential employees looking to migrate to the region," Cameron said.

The Bad: Our existing labour shortage is unprecedented

The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a fundamental shift in the labour force in B.C., Canada and around the world. Cameron noted, "60 per cent of the small businesses in B.C. are facing a severe labour shortage, and across the country, we see the same thing across all levels. I haven't seen anything like this in my 20-plus years."

The scope and the reach of the labour shortage is pronounced to the extent that traditional strategies to address employee turnover may not be sufficient to achieve the staffing levels required operate at full capacity.

"There is a real talent crunch right now. While this shortage isn't equally distributed among industries, everybody is feeling the pinch," Cameron concluded.

What comes next: Hospitality facing a long road to recovery

The hospitality sector is a dynamic employer that continues to struggle with the effects of the pandemic due to a variety of factors. Individuals working from home had a profound impact on restaurants in the downtown core and the absence of international visitors was devastating for shops and restaurants that relied on tourism dollars.

According to Cameron, "The hardest-hit [industry] has to be the hospitality sector - the jobs had become uncertain, and the people had to make different choices, and they aren't going back. We hear the same from the restaurant industry as well. The hourly/minimum wage workers who were asked to leave have now found other options and have made all these different choices, and it was such a long break that they had to find other jobs."

Cameron expressed optimism that loosening health restrictions and border measures in the year ahead will bring an influx of job seekers into the market, but expectations from prospective employees regarding flexible schedules and the ability to work from home are likely here to stay.

You can listen to the full conversation with Brent and many more when you subscribe to GVPOD wherever you get your podcasts or listen to the episode on our website

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