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Saturday, April 30, 2011
Alberta headed for ‘perfect storm’ in worker shortages
EDMONTON - Employment Minister Thomas Lukaszuk says Alberta is headed into a perfect storm of conditions that will result in a shortfall of more than 77,000 workers within the next decade.
Lukaszuk says the province’s low birthrate, burgeoning economy and anticipated baby boomer retirements will result in a labour shortage that will affect all businesses if ways are not found to keep “mature workers” — over age 55 — working longer.
“We’re walking into a perfect storm. (The year) 2011 is the first year in which officially baby boomers are turning 65, so we’re looking at a large exodus of workers — not only in numbers, but in experience,” he told reporters after releasing the province’s aging workforce strategy before 800 delegates at a human resources conference at Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre on Wednesday.
He said most employers do not have programs to encourage mature workers to continue working and the province has work to do to educate them about the approaching crisis.
The Alberta government has been working for the past three years on a strategy to support older workers, encourage more flexible hours and remove disincentives from working into retirement.
Lukaszuk said that if more workers can be convinced to work longer, that will boost workforce numbers by 40,000 to partially offset the coming shortfall.
But he conceded that current social security and taxation programs must be changed to make working into retirement years more lucrative.
Alberta is not proposing any new legislation in the short term, but Lukaszuk said his department will review current laws to determine whether changes can be made to allow workers to collect benefits while continuing to work.
The province will also work with Ottawa to make sure that its tax policies are not punitive, he said.
The announcement won accolades from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, but drew darts from the NDP and the head of the 140,000-member Alberta Federation of Labour.
“If the minister is talking about providing incentives and supports to people who voluntarily choose to work longer, that’s one thing, but if he is talking about forcing people to work past retirement against their will, he will have a war on his hands because Albertans are simply not going to take kindly to having their retirement dreams undermined and taken away,” said AFL president Gil McGowan.
“They have rushed forth with this strategy, but they haven’t talked to the people they should be talking to, and that’s working Albertans, most of whom look forward to their retirement.”
NDP MLA Rachel Notley called the policy the province’s chain-workers-to-their-desks strategy. She expressed concern that in the process of trying to make employer retirement programs more flexible to enable workers to stay longer, the retirement regime will be undermined.
“My concern is their efforts to negotiate with industry will result in a reduction of supports for retirement as an incentive to keep older workers in the workplace,” she said.
The Conference Board of Canada has predicted that nationally by 2015, there will be not enough qualified people to fill all positions vacated by mature employees, but the situation will be more acute in Alberta, where mature workers already make up 16 per cent of the workforce.
The Alberta strategy, called Engaging the Mature Worker, says economic growth in the province will be constrained by the exodus of postwar babies from the workforce, mostly between 2014 and 2028.
It calls on employers to consider reducing hours and responsibilities of older workers, moving some to part-time work, recalling retirees at busy times, redesigning their jobs, using their skills for mentoring and enlisting them in training.
- The number of workers aged 55 and over in Alberta doubled from 167,000 to 337,000 between 2000 and 2010.
- More than 17,400 Alberta workers retired last year and 190,000 are expected to retire over the next decade.
- More than 16.5 per cent of Albertans continue to work past age 65 compared to the national average of 10.5 per cent.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Alberta a 'job-creation machine'
Categories:Alberta Economy,Buy a House In Calgary,Calgary Economy,Calgary Market Trends,Calgary Real Estate,Unemployment
Good things ahead for Alberta - JOBS are coming back strong.
Unemployment rate hits national 2-year low of 5.7%
Alberta is back as a "job-creating machine." It was the only province to register a notable employment gain in February. Statistics Canada reported Friday that 13,700 new jobs were created in Alberta last month as the unemployment rate dropped to 5.7 per cent from 5.9 per cent in January -its lowest level since February 2009.
It was the second consecutive month that employment increased in Alberta. In January, 21,600 new jobs were created, the largest employment gain since 2006 in the province.
However, in the Calgary census metropolitan area, the unemployment rate rose to 6.3 per cent in February from 6.0 per cent in January as 4,400 new jobs were created in the month. From February 2010 to February 2011, employment in the Calgary CMA has increased by only 1,400 jobs.
Alberta's unemployment rate was second lowest in the country, tied with Saskatchewan and behind Manitoba's 5.3 per cent. A year ago, Alberta's unemployment rate was 6.8 per cent while the Calgary region's was 7.1 per cent.
Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial in Calgary, said the Alberta numbers are encouraging with two strong months of job growth in the province. "We've recaptured about 78 per cent of the jobs that we lost during the recession," he said. "The rate of increase that we're seeing in Alberta in the last 12 months or so has outpaced Canada. It definitely indicates Alberta is back as a jobcreating machine.
"With a few more months of even reasonably strong growth, we will definitely be back to record levels of employment in the province and that's what we've been expecting to see in 2011."
Hirsch said provincially, disproportionately more jobs are going to be created in central and northern Alberta.
"That's really just the dynamics with what's going on with the energy sector. It's all about oil and oilsands these days. Southern Alberta, with the exception of some of the administrative and some of the head office jobs, we're much more exposed to natural gas and that's been lagging."
He said most of Alberta's gains in February were concentrated in the manufacturing sector (12,700), a clear sign that oil refineries, manufacturers of equipment for oilsands extraction and food processors are continuing to add more workers.
Elsbeth Mehrer, director of research, workforce and strategy at Calgary Economic Development, said the jobless rate in Calgary rose in February because the labour force number is growing. According to Statistics Canada, the labour force in the Calgary region grew by 6,200 people on a monthly basis.
"As I read that, my feeling is that people are starting to feel some renewed confidence and they're starting to come back into the job market," she said.
"As we see some hiring pick up and we see people start to recognize that there's not only some renewed vigour, but even in some industries a shortage appearing again, people are starting to put themselves back into circulation."
Nationally, employment edged up in February by 15,100, bringing total gains over the past three months to 115,000. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 7.8 per cent. The federal agency said that over the past 12 months, employment has risen by 1.9 per cent (321,700).
In Alberta, 68,300 jobs have been created since February 2010.
"Compared with February 2010, when Alberta was near its employment-low following the labour market downturn, employment has grown by 3.4 per cent, well above the national rate of 1.9 per cent," the federal agency said.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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