The Time to Hire is Now

Keli Propp

Here at OFAS we have some important news for you. We are going to enter another labour shortage period. If you don’t already have the talent you need, then you could be in some trouble.

The time to find and acquire the best talent is right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned most people’s lives upside down. This means that a lot of the top talent around the world is looking for a change and could be ready to work for your business. Let this novel crisis work for you not against you.

A considerable number of people have been laid off, either on a temporary or permanent basis. There are also others who have been placed in job-share programs or have had their hours significantly reduced. Many companies have not been able to adequately meet the needs of their employees who have been working remotely. Therefore, leaving a large group of unhappy people looking for a change.  

The national unemployment rate in Canada has been at an all time low for the past three years in a row and lower than it has been in the past 43 years. Therefore, the only way to get qualified talent has been to poach from competitors or train the inexperienced from the ground up. If neither of these options work, then you need to look for foreign talent. Now you are competing for workers on a global scale. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!

It has always been difficult to attract excellent talent to a place like Saskatchewan especially when the labour force has been able to choose from any Canadian city or other prosperous cities from around the world. Right now, that may be different. Our immigration experts agree that COIVID-19 has created a similar labour market situation in Saskatchewan as the 2009 recession.

Back in 2009 Saskatchewan was in a unique situation and was hardly affected by the recession. Business carried on as usual and many companies were in dire need of competent, experienced workers. This created a unique labour market here. People from all over Canada and the world were now extremely interested in working and living in Saskatchewan. The top talent from across Canada and the world were now applying for a wide variety of positions in Saskatchewan which wouldn’t have occurred in a different economic environment. The talent that was coming to Saskatchewan was amazing. Companies were finally getting the best of the best.

So what does that mean for us now? Saskatchewan is reopening and many businesses will once again be busy, maybe even more so. Many places in Canada and the world are either still closed or in the early stages of reopening and may have limited further plans. This means there is a huge skilled labour pool in Canada and the world ready for a change. A new job, a new city, a new country, or a new life. Saskatchewan employers now can recruit the best from this massive group of people.

This truly is an ideal time to get the best talent to help your business grow. In addition to unprecedented unemployment levels, the Canadian government has provided significant subsidies to help businesses hire and retain their employees. This is not true of most other countries around the world.

Let’s look at an example.

If you own or manage a restaurant, you’re probably aware that, pre-COVID-19, there were about 15,000 food/service industry jobs in Canada on JobBank out of 95,000 total jobs listed. As a result of COVID-19, an overwhelming majority of restaurants have either reduced their capacity and output, or simply shut down.

This could be the perfect time to attract skilled workers to your restaurant that were likely unavailable mere months before. The flipside is, if you can’t find the talent you need now, it’s only going to get harder as restaurants begin to return to normal production levels and hire back their currently laid-off staff. Since COVID-19 has impacted the global labour market, and let’s not forget that the international talent pool is of far better quality right now than earlier in the year.

Our Recommendation:

When you are working on an advertising  campaign for your business’s vacant positions, it is crucial for you to meet all of Service Canada’s criteria. This is critical. After a 30-day campaign is complete (for most industries), your business will then be able to apply for a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) to get permission to hire a foreign worker.

Service Canada’s criteria is in place to give employers the best chance to hire local talent (ie: Canadians and Permanent Residents), as well as to ensure locals have the right to apply first. If your ad campaign meets Service Canada’s criteria, then you have likely exhausted all your options to find a local skilled person for your position in a reasonable time frame.

Our CEO Dirk Propp has processed over 500 LMIA in his career, 80%-90% of applicants for your LMIA will be foreign workers looking to make Canada their permanent home. The perfect candidate for your open position may be outside of Canada looking for an opportunity just like yours.

As discussed earlier, now is the best time to find ideal international talent for Canadian business. If you are eligible to apply for an LMIA, that individual is eligible to apply for a work permit to come to Canada and work for your business. As an added benefit for you as an employer, that work permit is associated with your business only. There is an extra level of retention security for your new employee.

The LMIA process is only a temporary solution, as the Canadian government places extra emphasis on hiring local talent should it ever become available for your position. There are provincial programs as well as federal programs that support the employer to keep the foreign employee in Canada permanently.

If your open position is a skilled job, the spouse of your new foreign employee is eligible for an open work permit. Your new employee’s children are also provided with study permits. Children on study permits with parents as foreign workers do not have to pay international tuition rates. Those international tuition rates can be prohibitive, providing it is associated with a primary or secondary school.

Bottom Line:

Now is the time to get the talent you need for your business.

If you advertise now, you may well find the employee you’ve been dreaming of, the difference maker, the missing piece. The talent you were unable to acquire in the past may be available now, for a short window. By bringing in new talent with different past experiences, you could introduce a wealth of new perspectives and ideas that will help your business flourish and grow.

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