It cannot be overstated: the Canadian kitchen cabinet industry is facing a serious labour shortage issue – and there are signs that it will get worse if the industry and government does not immediately take action. The Canadian Kitchen Cabinet Association is sounding the alarm bell to heighten awareness and accelerate strategies to attract and retain workers in the industry.
In its Fall 2021 study on labour shortages in our country, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) reported: “Labour shortage is not a new phenomenon in Canada, yet the pressure has intensified in recent years. More than half (55%) of Canadian entrepreneurs are struggling to hire the workers they need, leaving them with no choice but to work more hours, as well as delay or refuse new orders.”
There are many signs that the situation may have passed the tipping point.
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce reported a total of 62 percent of Ontario businesses are confronting labour shortages and they expect this to be a long-term problem.
- Canadian Apprenticeship Forum states skilled trades require an average of 75,000 new apprentices to be hired every year in the next five years in order to meet the demand.
- Buildforce Canada reports the construction industry requires 309,000 new recruits by 2030.
What kitchen cabinet businesses are experiencing with its labour force is not unique, yet this industry must find solutions to its labour shortage issues or its future prosperity – perhaps survival – is in question. This industry in Canada employs almost 25,000 and Statistics Canada employment figures reveal there is currently a ten percent job vacancy rate. So, there is a significant shortfall of labour today.
Then there is the matter of a greying workforce. The federal government recently launched a campaign to promote skilled trades after its recent projections that estimate 700,000 skilled trades workers are expected to retire between 2019 and 2028. On this point, one CKCA member revealed that his company will have 40 percent of its workforce retiring in the next five years.
Technology also creates a challenge for all skilled labour industries. The World Economic Forum estimates that 44 percent of the skills that employees currently have will need to change by 2025. So, industries today must not only plan to recruit and train thousands, but adopt upskilling and engagement strategies that will retain talent – just in order to keep the doors open.
To address this complex issue, the CKCA advanced a policy statement on the skilled labour shortage in Canada:
The CKCA and the Wood Manufacturing Council calls for support from industry and government in: 1) communicating the benefits of working in the kitchen cabinet industry, while building educational programs that include mentorship and relevant skills training, 2) financial assistance for the retention and re-training of employees for shops investing in automation and continuous improvement, and 3) creating a support network that promotes and makes more accessible existing tools that address shared labour challenges. (CKCA policy statement can be read here.)
Watch for – Part 2: CKCA reviews proposed solutions addressing the labour shortage problem in Canada.