Shortage of Skilled Workers

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It is 1am on a summer Saturday night, the wind is gently blowing through your hair and your favorite song is playing on the radio. The stress of your daily, white-collar routine is left behind for just one night – a single evening out with your friends to catch up on the chaos of your lives. You cannot help but enjoy this rare crack in your hectic, nine-to-five schedule; a fleeting moment when everything feels right and you feel free. In the distance, you notice flashing lights. Thinking little of what they could mean, you continue your journey. Suddenly, you come face-to-face with one of the most despised enemies of urban life: traffic. As you slow to a grinding halt, you cannot help but feel irritation, anger and helplessness. It is ruined. Your one night is completely ruined. As you take your place in the endless parking lot that was once a four-lane highway, you realize that the source stoppage is a massive construction project. You look and hear them pound at the pavement with their jackhammers. Trying to control your frustration, you take a deep breath, exhale, and turn your head away. Again, you feel the victim of this deepening social crisis: the shortage of skilled workers. You may have heard the topic raised on some morning show or another, but likely thought little of it. However, the figures are quite shocking. According to one author’s research, “52 percent of skilled trades are expected to retire within the next 15 years, with 41 per cent of respondents indicating they will face a skills shortage in their industry within five years.” (Arnold, par. 12).

The shortage of skilled workers in the coming decade poses a serious threat to all aspects of the Canadian economy. Like all others, our economy is comprised of three major elements: primary products, secondary goods and services. My research indicates that primary products constitute just over 7% of Canada's GDP, secondary goods account for 21%, and the services comprise 72%. This distribution although heavily in favor of the service industry still shows the importance of the secondary/manufacturing industry in Canada’s modern day economy. Taking into fact that since the late nineteenth century, Canada's centre of manufacturing is focused in two provinces, Ontario and Quebec. Consistently, year after year, Ontario contributes about 50% of the Canadian total of manufactured goods produced, measured by value, and Quebec 25%. Looking at the figures and the sources of production, one cannot help but realize that this issue hits very close to home. One author has expressed this concern “Manufactured products cannot be made without machinery; and machinery simply wouldn’t be available without the men and women who work as tool and die makers” (Eby, par. 6). According to that statement, the lack of production from the manufacturing sector will severely handicap Canada’s service industry that contributes to three quarters of Canada’s gross domestic product. The issue is clear, without skilled trade’s workers Canada’s secondary industry will suffer to the point where Canada’s gross domestic product will take a dramatic hit, which will eventually severely hinder Canada’s performance in today’s competitive global market.

Human resources management can be viewed as a set of interrelated policies, programs and practices whose main goals are to attract, socialize, motivate, maintain and retain employees. In reference to that definition, the shortage of skilled trade’s workers creates a large obstacle in the human resources practices and policies of many firms in both the private and public sectors. The impact that the shortage will have on recruitment and selection is a vast one. The first process in recruitment is generating a pool of applicants. As you can imagine if there are not enough people to generate a pool of the desired size, the HR department will be forced to...
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