Demographic shift contributing to labour shortage on P.E.I.

About 50 per cent of businesses in the Atlantic region are reporting challenges with recruitment and retention of staff, according to recent surveys, the Atlantic Provinces Economics Council says.

And that trend is likely to continue well into the future, said David Chaundy, APEC's president and CEO. 

"That's a fairly large number and it's really not a surprise when you think of our demographics," he said. 

"We've really seen a shift in this region from having an excess supply of labour … to we are now seeing these reports of labour shortages or skills challenges." 

Chaundy said immigration is helping the labour situation on P.E.I., but demographic trends, retirements and low fertility rates mean employers are finding it harder to fill their employment needs.

Not as many people entering workforce 

"What this really means for someone in the labour market is, if you go back 30 years ago for every 10 people that would be retiring and leaving the workforce, you would have 20 new workers entering," Chaundy said.

"Today for every 10 people retiring and leaving the workforce there are only seven young people entering that labour market."

Laura Meader/CBC

Chaundy said businesses need a "people strategy" if they intend to attract and retain workers.

Strategies could include competitive wages and benefits, flexible employment practices, turning more to immigration and hiring underrepresented groups, he said. 

Employers could also look to skills training and development or investing in technology and automation, he said. 

"It's quite a change that we've seen over the last three decades." 

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