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Employee training: A crucial strategy for your business

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Canada’s aging population is making it harder to find skilled workers. The best companies are responding by investing in training. Are you ready to face this challenge?

Training has always been a priority for entrepreneurs who want to sharpen their workers’ skills, better adapt to new technology and improve customer service. However, training has become an even more urgent concern for entrepreneurs in light of Canada’s changing workforce.

The median age of Canada’s population is now 42 years old. In 15 years, 25 per cent of the population will be over 65 years old. And this is having a profound impact on the labour force.

For each Canadian retiring 20 years ago, two young Canadians entered the job market. Today, this ratio is one to one, even with immigration. The labour force used to increase by over 1% a year, but its growth is going to be almost flat during the next two decades. In some provinces, the labour force has started to shrink.

A challenging hiring market

As a result, it’s becoming more and more difficult to hire qualified workers. Many growing businesses report they are having difficulties hiring and retaining qualified people. Just one example of this phenomenon is how hard it is to find mechanics anywhere in Canada.

To face this challenge, you will have to manage your human resources differently. For example, you may have to offer a more flexible work week to retain older workers longer. However, first and foremost, you will have to invest more in training your employees.

Many entrepreneurs have already gotten the message. In the most recent BDC survey of investment intentions, 51% of leaders of small and medium-sized businesses said they will invest in training in 2016, the highest proportion after technology investments.

What the best companies do

These entrepreneurs are following the path of Canada’s best companies. Another BDC study looked at the four top strategies of Canada’s most successful small and medium-sized businesses. It found that leaders of growing firms pay special attention to human resources management.

For 85% of these leaders, training is a priority. That’s particularly true for companies with at least $10 million in sales and at least five employees. This is the first time we have found training to be a key strategy for growing businesses.

Training is a great strategy for retaining qualified workers and attracting new ones. It keeps employees more engaged and is the key to improving customer service and business performance.

What’s your strategy?

Canada’s aging population will have a great impact on many aspects of our economy and one of the biggest will be on our labour force.

The most successful firms are already preparing themselves to face this challenge. How about your business? Are you investing in training to both build your employees’ skills and help you retain and attract the best people?


This article was published in BDC’s Profit$ magazine.

For highlights of current economic conditions, take a look at our Monthly Economic Letter.

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