The Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association is active in pursuing solutions to the shortage of skilled labour in the kitchen cabinet industry. It is working with its partnering associations, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters and Canadian Federation of Independent Business, to track the complex issues surrounding labour shortages. CKCA is engaged on a number of fronts: attracting and retaining skilled labour, increasing awareness of attractive career opportunities within the industry, and advocating for better immigration and foreign workers programs. There are interesting developments in each of these areas.
In a recent report, the Conference Board of Canada and the Future Skills Centre assessed that the unrealized value of Canada’s skills shortage is equivalent to 1.3 percent of the country’s GDP. This unrealized value has topped $25 billion in 2020, up from $15 billion in 2015. All levels of government recognize this is a critical problem and are finding ways to encourage greater numbers of skilled tradespeople. For example, in Ontario, the provincial government launched Skilled Trades Ontario, a new Crown agency, to improve trades training and simplify services. The new agency will promote and market the trades, develop the latest training and curriculum standards, and provide a streamlined user-friendly experience for tradespeople. It is hoped that the agency can deliver more skilled workers for in-demand jobs.
Specific to the kitchen cabinet industry, CKCA is supportive of the training program at the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing. The new program’s objective is to attract professionals and entrepreneurs to the wood products industry. Kudos to CAWP for opening the program to people without a background in wood products, who are preparing to take on supervisory or management roles in the industry.
CKCA is also working with four leading industry groups to offer an online jobs portal that will make it easier to promote job opportunities and attract new skilled workers to woodworking. Companies can post “help wanted” ads free-of-charge on WoodworkingJobs.ca in order to connect with potential candidates.
Effective immigration policies and foreign workers programs are necessary for Canada to increase the size of the country’s workforce. Canada needs one million workers over the next five years according to the latest federal analysis. This has prompted Ottawa, in early April, to give several provinces the ability to hire significantly more temporary foreign workers as part of changes to its immigration rules. The changes are meant to streamline the application process for employers.
In conjunction with this, the federal government is accepting 1.3 million new immigrants over the next three years, in part, to help fill critical labour shortages. On the surface this needs to be applauded. However, it is disturbing to learn that the government has actually cut its target for skilled workers because of the existing backlog of 1.8 million immigrants in the queue to be processed. In fact, some reports indicate Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has paused new invitations altogether because the department cannot process them.
There is no silver bullet to solving Canada’s labour shortage. It is the reason why CKCA is approaching the issues in a multifaceted manner. It is essential the Association continues to foster and support educational and awareness initiatives, attract new talent from available pools of executive and skilled workers, and work with government to improve immigration and foreign worker programs.
If you are interested in knowing more details about what CKCA is doing regarding the shortage of skilled tradespeople, or wish to join our efforts in advancing industry solutions, connect with the CKCA executive director Sandra Wood – email@example.com
What did we say in Part 1? Read here