Aside from needing “somebody” and “not just anybody,” I’m not sure what type of assistance John Lennon and Paul McCartney had in mind with their number one hit single back in 1965. But in today’s world, the Beatles’ appeal for help could very well be coming from Canadian employers. It seems there just isn’t enough good help to go around these days.
The impending retirement of the baby boomers isn’t news. We’ve been talking about it for years. And for just as long, experts have been predicting a scarcity of skilled young workers to replace them. But the talent shortage is no longer a looming problem. It’s here.The shortage is most pronounced in Alberta where a hot energy market is creating jobs faster than they can be filled. In a recent report, Alberta’s Labour Shortage: Just the Tip of the Iceberg, The Conference Board of Canada predicts that the annual shortfall of workers in the province could reach 332,000 by 2025.But the problem isn’t isolated to Alberta’s oil sands. Whether it’s the tech sector in Ontario or the construction industry in New Brunswick, employers across the country are starting to feel the pinch. In June, Canada’s unemployment rate reached its lowest point in 32 years, dropping to just 6.1%. Ontario’s job market was even tighter with the jobless rate hitting 5.9%. And, of course, Alberta had the lowest unemployment rate of any province at 3.5%.For employers, their challenge is threefold. First, they have to attract talented young graduates or skilled people from other companies, industries or even other countries. Second, they have to hold onto the skilled people they already have, including convincing those approaching retirement to stick around just a little bit longer.(Yes, we will still need you when you’re 64.)Third, they have to get more out of their workforce through better training, technologies and processes.But this is easier said than done. So many employers are turning to their consultants-the folks who have traditionally provided them with pension and benefits consulting services-to help them with their workforce woes. And the consulting industry is happily responding, offering assistance with everything from attraction and retention to workforce effectiveness strategies.The problem is, the consulting industry isn’t immune to the dearth of young talent. It’s facing a skills shortage of its own, as our cover story discovers. And when your industry is all about brain power, being short on expertise is a problem. So at the same time they work to solve their clients’ talent challenges, consulting firms are under pressure to come up with creative solutions of their own.Until they do, it’s going to be a hard day’s night for a lot of consultants.