On Tuesday, April 10, the Globe and Mail's business section headline highlighted Canada's ever expanding "labour gap". Despite the growing ranks of the unemployed (1.4 million and counting) employers were unable to fill 220,000 vacancies across Canada. Vacancies range from skilled technicians and engineers to truck drivers.
Small, medium and large companies complain that workers are difficult to recruit and the pressure is on to open the immigration doors in order to meet the labour demand.
Fortunately, the new digital age allows Canadians to add their comments to articles posted online and respond they did; in the hundreds.
Why, asked many Canadians, were so many young engineers still out of work despite all of the so-called demand? What person in their right mind would uproot themselves from their community far away for the brief rewards of a contract trucking position? Or a short-term contract with no prospect for long-term employment? Or a low level job that might pay well, but where any savings would be eaten up in astronomically high living expenses? Or where living accommodation cannot be found?
Perhaps the so-called labour gap should be re-defined as the business responsibility gap. Many employers want an instant skill and experience match and take little responsibility for building and grooming their labour force.
That, apparently is the sole responsibility of taxpayers through our education system.
The just-in-time manufacturing ethos has confused many businesses into thinking that employees should be equally willing to show up whenever needed but to be prepared to be just as disposable.
Apparently, workers just aren't prepared to survive in a "here today, gone tomorrow" workplace.
Here's a news flash for Canadian employers. Maybe some of those profits should be re-invested in training people and developing a long-term strategy for maintaining stable employment?
Taxpayers are already providing a reasonably educated and willing workforce, what they can't do is train people for jobs that may not yet even exist. That's up to you, the employer.
Oh, and the bit about opening doors to immigrants so that they can fill these jobs? We've been doing that since the end of the Second World War.
I should know, my father was one of those "skilled labourers".
Maybe it's time Canada's business community grew up and took some responsibility for the health of their businesses as well as their share of the Canadian economy and stop looking for quick, cheap, Band-Aid solutions.
People aren't widgets, as some members of the business community are discovering to their cost.