Human Resource Planning

 
 

The Labour Force

A Saskatchewan delegation travelled to the Philippines in May, 2008 to recruit workers for the scorching provincial economy.  The group expected to return with a committment from 250 skilled workers to move to the province.  This trip, as well as a trip to Ukraine scheduled for June 2008, will support the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) in meeting it's goal of 2,800 nominations for the 2008-09 fiscal year.(6)

In the summer, 2007, the federal and provincial governments in Saskatchewan signed a new training and skills development agreement. Under the agreement, the federal government will provide over $90 million to help more Saskatchewan residents gain access to employment and skills development programs over the next six years. Through the agreement, over 1000 Saskatchewan people per year, who are not eligible for training under the Employment Insurance program, will have a chance to improve or upgrade their skills.(7)

We know that the economic climate across Canada and around the world has changed significantly but Saskatchewan is in the best shape of all the provinces in early 2009.  All independent forecasts show Saskatchewan leading the country in economic growth in 2008.  Since the beginning of October, 2008, five independent forecasters have concluded Saskatchewan will lead the country in economic growth in 2009.(8)
Saskatchewan Industry and Resources (www.ir.gov.sk.ca) offers a great deal of information and resources on the labour force. Listed below are a few of the labour force statistics available:
          •  Saskatchewan’s red-hot economy has helped create yet another jobs record for the province.
          •  Statistics Canada figures released on January 11, 2008 showed that an average 501,800 people were employed in Saskatchewan in 2007 breaking the previous record of 491,600 set in 2006.   This is the first time the yearly employment level has reached the half a million mark in our province's history, and marks the fifth straight year job numbers have set a record compared to the previous year. 
 
The Government of Saskatchewan shared Statistics Canada figures reporting there were 16,600 more people working in Saskatchewan in January, 2009 compared to the same month a year ago.  This is an increase of 3.3 percent.  That is by far the strongest rate of employment growth in the country and a sharp contrast to the rest of Canada, which lost more than 126,000 jobs during the same period.(9)  More than three quarters of the new jobs in Saskatchewan (13,000) were filled by women while aboriginal employment grew by 3,600.(9)  The October 2008 tax, infrastructure and debt reduction packages announced by the provincial government are expected to add nearly 19,000 new jobs in 2009 and more than 10,000 new jobs in 2010.(8)
 
According to the Action Saskatchewan Report Card, released by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with Sask Trends Monitor, thirty-six percent of the province's population older than age 55 is now involved in paid employment. This compares to thirty percent five years ago. The Chamber adds that this trend is expected to continue as the province's senior population continues to grow and as there is a demand for mature workers with a solid work ethic and experience. In addition, the report card shows that the employment rate of off reserve Aboriginals had increased to sixty-six percent in 2007, up from sixty-one percent in 2005. Furthermore, according to the same report, youth employment (15 to 29 years) was also up, to seventy-one percent in 2007.(4) 
 
The 2001 Census classified 28% (or 19,225 employees) of the employed labour force in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sector, the largest industry in the Melfort labour market area. Other significant industries in the area include: the retail trade industry; manufacturing industry; and the health care and social assistance sector.
 
The number of social assistance recipients continues to decrease over time in the Melfort SCC area. There were 26.9% fewer people on social assistance in December 2005 than in December 2004 in the area. While this decrease is evident in all groups, the largest decrease is observed in the 15-24 age bracket (-35.3%). In addition, the number of fully employable recipients was down by 45.3% in December 2005 from December 2004. There were also fewer partially employable beneficiaries in December 2005.(1)
 
The Nipawin Oasis Community Centre Cooperative will receive $81,589 from the federal government and $49,346 from the provincial government to help forty young people in the Nipawin area develop job skills and find and maintain employment.(2)
 

Labour Shortages

The recurring theme when talking to employers in the northeast is the growing concern regarding the shortage of skilled and unskilled labour! The importance of this issue is reinforced at the provincial and national level. 
According to Todd Hirsch, chief economist at the Canada West Foundation, in his report on Western Canada’s economy, “few [topics] are as critical to the future of western Canada’s economy as is post-secondary education and skills training. In almost every aspect of the economy – international trade, knowledge-based industries, the service sector, manufacturing, resources – the theme of a highly skilled labour force emerges as an essential element for success.”(3)
 
At the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum in Montreal in June 2006, the Canadian Labour and Business Centre reported on their findings from 1169 surveys of private and public sector managers and labour leaders.   The analysis examined what percentage of managers and labour leaders judge a shortage of skilled labour to be a moderate or serious problem. The national results are as follows:
          •Private sector managers – 94%
          •Private sector labour leaders – 93%
          •Public sector managers – 96%
          •Public sector labour leaders – 95%
 
All four groups consider the shortage of skilled labour as an issue of greater concern than productivity or innovation. Public sector managers ranked the shortage of skilled labour #1 out of 42 issues. 
 
Throughout the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, suggestions came forward for industries to sustain and contribute to economic growth:
           •Hire more first year apprentices
           •Improve how internationally-trained worker credentials are recognized
           •Employ different management approaches when dealing with different generations of workers
           •Business, labour and other groups encouraged to work in collaboration 
Further information is available at www.wpp-clbc.ca
 
The Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certificate Commission (SATCC) is an industry led agency made up of employer and employee representatives of Saskatchewan's trades.  The SATCC feels that in the past there wasn't enough emphasis being placed on trades by teachers and guidance counsellors in schools.  This has changed as teachers and counsellors are much more keyed into opportunities in trades.(5)
 
A Cumberland College survey of 109 businesses in the northeast Tourism and Hospitality sector offered a little different perspective on the issue of labour shortages. Many employers identified a shortage of workers with good basic work skills. They indicated a willingness to train on the job if the employee exhibited good work/personal values and was willing to work.  A quick look at another website (www.saskjobs.ca) can give you a listing of jobs posted by employers in the northeast – by region or community. It reinforces the point that there is a high demand for highly skilled and less skilled labour throughout the region.
 

DATA SOURCE:
1  Service Canada – Annual Labour Market Perspective 2006/2007 – Melfort Area, p.7
2  Labour Market Bulletin September 2008
3  Canada West Foundation, Coming Up Next: The Transformation of Western Canada’s Economy, p. 43.
4  Labour Market Bulletin June 2008
5  Labour Market Bulletin April 2008
6  The Star Phoenix May 21, 2008
7  The Star Phoenix September 27, 2007
8  Government of Saskatchewan News Release December 22, 2008
9  Government of Saskatchewan News Release February 6, 2009

 

SUMMARY OF HUMAN RESOURCE PLANNING AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
 
Two of the strategies for addressing labour market issues involve human resource planning and training. Workforce training is considered very important to business development. One issue affecting training is the capacity for business and industry to develop comprehensive Human Resource Planning strategies. Two tables below show the distribution of firms in the College region by firm size.
 
Table 10 Number of Employers by Employee Size

Number of Employers by Employee Size
Community
1 - 4
5 - 19
20 - 49
50 - 199
200 +
Total
Melfort
201
113
32
9
1
356
Nipawin
187
94
15
9
1
306
Tisdale
173
87
16
8
0
284
Hudson Bay
94
43
15
2
1
155
Carrot River
94
23
12
1
0
130
Porcupine Plain
69
21
4
1
0
95
Birch Hills
33
20
2
1
0
56
Total
851
401
96
31
3
1382

Source: Saskatchewan Job Futures
 
Table 11 Number of Employers in the College Region 

Number of Employers in the College Region
By Industry
Industry
1 - 4
5 - 19
20 - 49
50 - 199
200 +
Total
Primary Industries
& Utilities
421
80
6
1
0
508
Construction
99
38
4
2
0
143
Manufacturing
22
21
2
7
0
52
Trade
123
145
31
4
0
303
Transportation &
Warehousing
70
18
3
1
0
92
Information, Culture
& Recreation
24
16
7
1
0
48
Finance, Insurance,
Real Estate & Leasing
70
23
13
2
0
108
Professional, Scientific
& Technical Services
50
18
2
0
0
70
Management, Administrative
& Other Support
53
26
2
0
0
81
Educational Services
6
1
2
2
3
14
Health Care &
Social Assistance
59
51
13
8
1
132
Accommodation &
Food Services
41
53
14
1
0
109
Other Services
122
39
1
0
0
162
Public Administration
24
30
4
5
1
64
Total
1184
559
104
34
5
1886

Source: Saskatchewan Job Futures
 
The tables show that over 92% of the firms in our region have less than 20 employees. The Canadian Labour and Business Centre 2005 Viewpoints Survey tells us that the presence of formal training plans and budgets is related to firm size. According to their data, for firms with less than 20 employees:
  • 60% of firms had no training plan and no budget
  • 20% of firms had a training plan but no budget
  • < 10 % of firms had budget but no plan
  • ~10% of firms had a plan and a budget
The need for collaboration among all parties who have a stake in effective human resource planning in our region is greater than ever. Small business needs access to the best available tools for HR planning and training plan development.  Small businesses in all industry sectors require expertise in a variety of areas to be successful today. Areas may include Human Resource Planning, Information Technology, Occupational Health and Safety, Marketing and Public Relations – to name a few. All of these needs create training or professional consulting opportunities for organizations prepared to work collaboratively with employers.
 

Aboriginal Training & Employment

Nine new partners have joined the Aboriginal Employment Development Program (AEDP) in Nipawin. These partners include A & W, Harolds Sports & Shoes, Harpers Pharmacy, The Nipawin Journal, Nipawin Oasis Community Centre Co-Operative, Northern Green Resort, OK Tire, RONA/Pinecrest Lumber Ltd. and Spectrum Signs & Printing.  Nipawin now has twenty-seven partners who share a common vision to achieve a more representative workforce in their area.(5)  The Partnership Agreement is the first of its kind in Canada. What makes it so unique is the diversity of partners working together to achieve a Representative Workforce Strategy.
 
East Side LIMB funded 31 full time students in technical programs in 2005-2006. Programs included Corrections Services, Automotive Repair, Media Arts, Early Childhood Development, Addictions Counselling, Office Education, Carpentry, Welding, Institutional Cooking, and Hair Stylist. Shoal Lake, Red Earth and James Smith communities are partnering with Cumberland Regional College and East Side LIMB to deliver 3 Adult Education Grade 5–10 programs and GED 12 Upgrading. There will be 20 students in each program. Three students are attending Keyano College for training in heavy hauling. The “Mine Operations” program involves 6 month training and an optional 3 month work placement at Fort McMurray.
 
At the February 2006 Employment Development Planning Conference, East Side LIMB identified the following priorities for employment-related training.
             •Career Counselling
             •Carpentry and Construction
             •Basic Education           
             •Oil and Gas
             •Truck/Bus Driver
             •Teacher Assistant
             •Home Care
             •Addictions Counselling
             •Security and Maintenance
             •Clerical
 
Kinistin Saulteaux Nation is one of the seven First Nations of the Saskatoon Tribal Council involved in a partnership with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority to develop a casino at the Whitecap Dakota First Nation. The Dakota Dunes Casino and Resort has been in operation since October, 2007.  The Human Resource Planning is very well developed for the casino. Every job description is detailed and lists all skills. There is an incredible training plan.  The “job readiness” programs were very successful and a very positive experience for all participants. Life Skills programs were delivered to get people ready for these jobs. There were 3 different groups: 1–12 week program and 2–6 week programs and 60 seats in total. Forty-seven completed the course. Of the 13 who did not complete the training, 2 left early for jobs. All who completed had solid career plans.
 
An Aboriginal Network Meeting was held in conjunction with the annual Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) conference in Calgary in May, 2006. Participants were asked what is working or needs to work to improve Aboriginal training and labour force participation. Below are a few of the many suggestions brought forward:
                       •Health and Human Services Programs
                       •Trades training
                      • More Co-op programs and apprenticeship
           Upgrading and Bridging programs; pre-health/trades programs
                       •Curriculum that reflects more Aboriginal cultural components, as well as the culture of the area/region
                       •Community-based delivery
                        •Programs that include volunteer work as a component
                        •Support services such as counselling, elders in residence, transportation, child care, housing, peer mentoring
                      •Cross-cultural sensitivity training
 
 

Training

One of many factors influencing the shortage of skilled tradespeople is the students' misinformation or lack of information about the trades. Career and guidance counselors can play an important role in promoting the opportunities in the trades and apprenticeship training. In Todd Hirsch’s report entitled “Coming Up Next: The Transformation of Western Canada’s Economy”, he predicts that “the public demand for trades, technical training, and vocational programs will increase at a faster rate than will demand for traditional university degrees over the coming years.”(1)
 
The value of apprenticeship was featured in a Star Phoenix article on August 5, 2006. It reported on a national survey of 430 employers that concluded that “Canadian companies are selling themselves short by not hiring more apprentices.”  The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum in Montreal in June 2006 reported on this survey in a presentation entitled “Return on Apprenticeship Training Investment”. Listed below are a few of the key findings of this project:
            •On average, for each $1 invested in an apprentice, a benefit of $1.38 accrues to the employer;

            •All 15 trades studied (automotive service technician, bricklayer, carpenter, construction electrician, cook, heavy-duty equipment mechanic, industrial mechanic (millwright), insulator, machinist, mobile crane operator, motor-vehicle body repairer, refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanic, sheet-metal worker, sprinkler-system installer, and tool-and-die maker) show an overall net benefit of apprenticeship training;

            •Majority of employers across all business sizes and regions perceived a “homegrown” journeyperson as more productive than an externally trained journeyperson.

There is also a plan to create a cost/benefit analysis “tool” that employers and industry associations can use to calculate their own cost/benefit analysis. For more information, visit www.caf-fca.org.
 
Links to Lifelong Learning was a 2.5 year project made possible with funding support from the Office of Learning Technologies, HRSD. The project, completed in November 2005, targeted learners in northeast Saskatchewan facing barriers to learning and to entrance into the labour market. Four partners, Northeast School Division, Cumberland Regional College, Eastern Region II Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, and Kinistin Saulteaux Nation, created a project team to recruit and support participants engaged in technology-enhanced learning.
 
Project activities were learner-centered. The project team used a problem-solving approach to determine the learners’ needs and develop a solution which solved issues of access and support for the learner. Activities supported by the project ranged from individualized customized training for employees in the workplace to locally delivered online classes in small rural communities. Activities spanned the entire continuum of synchronous/asynchronous delivery; however, there was a trend towards the middle of the continuum, utilizing a blend of communication tools to fit the learners’ needs. The concept of “learning center” evolved to include a virtual learning center and resulted in new collaborations between partners to deliver courses.
 
Learning technologies can be powerful tools to enhance learning. There is a hierarchy of stages that must be achieved before learners can be successful in e-learning and in acquiring marketable skills for employment. The project examined these stages - accessibility, awareness, and basic skills – to determine the barriers that can be created for the learners and the supports required to overcome those barriers.
 
E-learning has tremendous potential for individual learners and communities of learning. It can improve learning, provide flexibility, lower costs, and enhance knowledge and performance. It is based on three fundamental criteria: networkability, a common web-based platform and a blending of learning solutions. When e-learning is most effective, the technology is “transparent”.  The complete final report is available at the College website under publications:  www.cumberlandcollege.sk.ca
 
The Training System Review Panel was established by Saskatchewan’s Minister of Learning in May 2005 to undertake a comprehensive, future-oriented review of the province’s public training system. The scope of the review was the public training system which was defined as all training activities that are publicly funded, including Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST, the Regional Colleges, and the Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (ATCC); however, other institutions and organizations and their interactions within the learning system were also considered.  The final report was released in November 2005 and is available on the Saskatchewan Learning website:  www.tsrpanel.gov.sk.ca.   At the centre of this comprehensive review is a recommendation for a New Training Model (NTM).  Recommendation 6: “The New Training Model provides the fundamental framework for the next five years of development within the training system.”
 
The Panel does not hold to the view that new institutional structures are needed to advance the New Training Model. “In this respect, the Panel considers that a new kind of center is worthy of consideration…These are centers without rooms and walls that encourage the organizing and concentrating of effort around situations and opportunities where training can play a role in advancing individual, community or regional development. Such centers, to be affordable and adaptable, must be “virtual centers” that exist in cyberspace as opposed to physical space.”(2)
 
There is an opportunity for further development and implementation of the concepts in the New Training Model using a virtual learning center. It is an innovative, flexible, and responsive model using technology as a tool to support learning and increase access to training in a timely and cost-effective way. It has the potential to maximize the participation of the working population in training, as well as those getting ready to join the workforce.  Beth Moorhead writes in the Catalyst: “…global teaching applications will need to be delivered to the business sector quickly and effectively using the latest technology to keep up with our new knowledge-based global economy.”(3)
 
One of the conclusions of the survey of the Tourism and Hospitality sector is an ongoing priority: the need to build awareness of the programs and supports available to small business. Everyone can play an important role in promoting our towns and surrounding areas. We need to be knowledgeable about what is happening in the region and celebrate successes. Regional partners can work together to support small business in overcoming barriers created by restrictive government regulations and economic policy.
 
The survey asked employers to identify additional skills that would help prepare workers in their business. This is a summary of their combined responses. The bracketed numbers show the number of similar responses:
•    Computer training (34) – basic computer skills; operate touch screen tills
•    Human resource planning (13)–
                           1.            Developing an HR plan (2)
                           2.            Recruitment strategies (2)
                           3.            Hiring (5)
4.            Retention (2)
5.              Remuneration (2)
•    Website development (20)
•    Accounting (19)
•    Marketing development – including displays (18)
•    Business Plan development (12)
•    Service standards (e.g. STEC training) (10)
•   Workplace essential skills (46)
•    Professionalism (47)
•    First aid/CPR (40)
•    Serve it right (responsible beverage service) (15)
•    Office operations (12)
•    Food safe (31)
•    Job Search (8)
•    WHMIS (13)
•    Tourism (21)
•    Service Best – Customer Service Seminar (43)
•    Train the Workplace Trainer (15)
Other:
                        •               Guiding course (3)
                        •               ATV safety (3)
                        •               Hospitality (4)
                        •               Management
                        •               Public relations (13)
                                                              Public speaking
 
Their feedback was consistent with their observations throughout the survey. Service standards and basic work and life skills rank high on their list of skills for their workplace.
 
An interesting area for further investigation is the Ready to Work Case Study. Titled “The Ready-to-Work Program: Opening Doors to the Tourism Industry”(4), the case study looks at the RTW program and the impact it has on the tourism industry in Canada. What it recognizes is the importance of successful integration of individuals into tourism-related jobs. The case study concludes that the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council’s (CTHRC’s) Ready-to-Work program is a solid initiative that focuses its attention on getting under-represented and at-risk people into the workforce. Serving the needs of a predominantly Aboriginal clientele in Saskatchewan, the STEC offers participants a 32-week program that covers the occupational skills, attitudes and behaviours needed to work and succeed within the tourism and hospitality industry. The program works because it focuses on achieving results that matter: getting people ready to work.



1  Canada West Foundation, Coming Up Next: The Transformation of Western Canada’s Economy, p. 39
2  Saskatchewan Training System Review, November 2005. p. 221
3  National Council for Continuing Education & Training. The Catalyst, Volume 34, Number 3, Issues in Workforce Development: A Corporate Perspective.
4  The Conference Board of Canada, September 2005. The Ready-to-Work Program: Opening Doors to the Tourism Industry.
5  The StarPhoenix September 27, 2007