Hiring intentions of Canadian employers

Ten attributes Canadian CEOs say they're most looking for in new hires

Peter Harris|

A new survey by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives reveals that Canadian employers plan to fill between 700,000 and 800,000 positions in this country over the next five years.

Almost half the employers surveyed said that their organization would be hiring over 2,000 people. Fourteen of the largest companies indicated that they would be filling more than 10,000 positions.

While these opportunities are expected across all sectors, the largest gains are anticipated in financial services, insurance, telecommunications, energy, mining, construction, transport and retail.

Part of this hiring is expected to be spurred on by older workers retiring. 36% of the employers surveyed said they expect 11% or more of their workforce to retire over the next five years. Eight companies are expecting over 20% of their staff to retire by 2018, and one large manufacturing company is expecting to see fully half of its workforce retire.

However less than 30% of those surveyed expressed confidence in being able to replace the skills of retiring workers with new hires.

What are hiring managers looking for?

  • People skills/relationship-building
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Analytical abilities
  • Leadership skills
  • Industry-specific knowledge & experience
  • Functional knowledge
  • Technological literacy
  • Project management skills
  • Creative thinking

One CCCE member summed it up by saying, “Attitude always comes first. Recruits must be passionate about learning, contributing and fitting into the company’s culture.”

Several respondents indicated that co-op programs, apprenticeships and other forms of integrating school with practical work are considered to be important sources of relevant work experience for new recruits.

More than 75% of employers surveyed said they hire co-op students through partnerships with one or more colleges, polytechnics or universities. They also said that they plan to increase their co-op programs in the future.

This is in line with other recent studies that have shown that employers are much more likely to hire graduates who have earned real-world experience through co-ops. Students from co-op programs also earn higher average starting salaries than their fellow graduates.

CCCE members feel that students who have worked at co-op placements while studying graduate with more confidence and the on-the-job skills needed to “hit the ground running”.

Several employers also spoke about the importance of summer jobs, part-time work, volunteering, and extra-curricular activities when deciding between candidates. These experiences look good on a resume, and they can be an excellent way for entry-level candidates to demonstrate the development of their transferable ‘soft’ skills.

The Canadian Council of Chief Executives represents 150 chief executives and leading entrepreneurs in all sectors and regions of the country. Its member companies collectively employ 1.5 million Canadians. This survey was conducted and during October and November of 2013, and released in January 2014. Full Report.


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  • Travis Barker, MPA GCPM

    Interesting article. The research discussed in this article points out one thing that is well known in the business literature: That modern, growing, and innovative businesses are not looking for managers to maintain the status quo but are instead looking for leaders that have the competencies necessary to take the business to the next level.

    The competency to grow your staff is different than managing them. Similarly, the competency needed to ‘hit the ground running’ is more than just familiarity with the same exact position; it requires the ability to respond to the unique characteristics of the problem which includes the environment’s context, culture, regulatory boundaries, resource limitations, values, and assumptions. Maintaining is easy. Growing or repairing requires completely different skills altogether.

    The problem with these competencies is that they are poorly illustrated in the language of the professional resume. Documentation, reports, anecdotal and second hand impressions, and evaluations more often then not hinge on the job description template that focuses on key behaviors or outcomes but not how those outcomes are delivered. This is often why companies are so often recruiting external candidates.

    Realizing a valuable opportunity requires the ability to think outside of the box. This paradigm shift is frequently out of reach but not impossible to achieve. Until companies can integrate these competencies into everything they do their dependency on the environment will be their greatest competitive advantage diminishing factor.

    Travis Barker, MPA GCPM

  • Will

    Interesting to see that the leaders are aware of their aging staff and expected retirements, so why not start the hiring now to gain the advantage this time would provide to accommodate knowledge transfer, thus reducing information loss and the knowledge gap.

  • Meet-The Worfeus

    But they don’t allow people to carry guns around in Canada so they don’t have freedom, right?