Resolving the challenge of labour scarcity by supporting businesses is the idea of the government in place. “It’s interesting, because they need help in the current environment”, explains Manon Poirier, director general of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés of Quebec.
She believes government assistance will encourage organizations to boost employees’ wages and working conditions, two important factors in attracting and retaining employees.
In a post, IRIS researcher Julia Posca wrote that the government does not take enough account of working conditions. This is evidenced by the low pay for the ten most in-demand professions in Quebec, generally difficult jobs.
According to economist Pierre Fortin, Quebec should also continue its efforts to extend active life. In Quebec, the employment rate for people aged 60 to 64 is 48.5%. For those 65 years old and above, it’s only 10.3%.
To keep this pool of workers on the job, assistance to businesses to adapt workplaces and a tax credit have been set up. “Tax credits alone end up reducing the net salary for every dollar collected”, says Pierre Fortin. Taxes are too cumbersome and discourage older people from staying in a job.
As for foreign workers, the government hopes to select foreigners better in order to better integrate them according to market needs, a vision which is much debated. Although selective recruiting abroad can fill needs quickly, they cannot be the only option, Pierre Fortin says.
They have to include a support component for foreign workers, because recruiting without integration compromises retention. In August 2019, Quebec announced a personalized path to support workers from abroad. “It’s not perfect and there is still conscious and unconscious discrimination. But there is more interest, organizations are waking up”, explains Manon Poirier.
The effort has to be collective to be effective, she believes. “The government can support, but organizations need to reinvent themselves by changing their management practices”.
Starting a technological transition seems increasingly important. “This is important even without shortages, as it reduces needs and adds more value to jobs,” says Manon Poirier.
The same goes for vocational training, which retains employees. To encourage businesses, the government has just launched a plan to increase the literacy rate of Quebecers and invest in training in new technologies. The idea is welcomed by the Quebec Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.