More About SLMP Program Priorities

The Sector Labour Market Partnerships (SLMP) program has identified the following known workforce issues:
  • Recruitment and retention of youth (aged 15 to 29)
  • Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
  • New employment structures such as short term contracts and the ‘gig’ economy
  • The impacts of technology and automation in the workplace

Recruitment and Retention of Youth (aged 15-29)

The B.C. population is aging. As a result, there is growing competition between employers to labour market hire entrants with job ready skills. To attract and retain young workers, employers need to align with youth’s values, and support their professional development and career advancement.  

The majority of young workers change employers within five years; those who stay longer are generally satisfied with the variety of work experiences, sense of purpose, professional development opportunities and the efficient utilization of their skills. Competitive wages are important to young workers, but wages are not be their only concern.

Some youth face disproportionately high barriers to employment; Indigenous youth, new immigrants, young people living in poverty, those who identify as LGBTTIQQ2S+, young people with disabilities, racialized youth, and youth in rural/remote communities.

Organizations should implement workforce strategies to reduce the barriers affecting these groups; those that do so will be in a better position to overcome the pressures of a shrinking workforce.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

Attracting and retaining underrepresented workers is one potential strategy for addressing labour and skill shortages. Evidence suggests increasing diversity and inclusion improves a company’s financial performance and innovation as well.  Some populations that are seeking equity in the workforce are:
  • New Canadians (Immigrants with Citizenship)
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • People with Disabilities
Improving workforce diversity requires a concerted effort to understand the barriers to entry and advancement, and an acknowledgement that better outcomes require organizational change, and a commitment to see these changes through.
Some human resource strategies that demonstrate success in improve diversity and inclusion include:
  • enabling leaders to demonstrate inclusive behaviours;
  • creating a sense among employees that they can be their authentic selves;
  • providing sponsorship and mentorship opportunities; and
  • identifying clear career paths.
Behaviours that create advantage for some and disadvantage for others need to be identified and addressed at a broad and systemic organizational level.
 

New Employment Structures and the "Gig" Economy

Flexible employment contracts or the “gig economy” tend to categorize workers as independent contractors rather than employees. In Canada, there has been a move away from permanent full-time employment to part-time; the number of part-time jobs increased from 15% to 22% between 1976 and 2016 with a decline in full-time jobs from 85% to 78%.

Contract-based employment may be attractive to workers who value flexibility; however, there is a balance between increasing flexibility and the erosion of labour protections. Some skilled workers may have difficulty navigating the gig market which increases the risk that employers will not find qualified workers through this model.  While contracting may allow employers to rapidly acquire the skilled workers they need, but presents a risk to corporate knowledge and intellectual property.

Employers should understand when it is appropriate to use contract-based employment, how these models can advance or hinder their long-term objectives, and what potential risks and issues may be introduced to their business models.
 

Technology and Automation in the Workplace

Adopting technology is a form of innovation. Technological innovation is providing important economic opportunities. The digitization of work is enabling job seekers to enter new labour markets that were previously inaccessible.

However, technological innovations are also disrupting social and economic institutions that have been developed to support workers’ rights. Online work erodes workers’ rights, and the increasing automation of many job functions will have a mixed impact on occupations, industries, and the ability of the labour force to adjust to the future of work. 

Automation is likely to affect the majority of workers in some way within the next 5-10 years.  A 2017 report suggests that 50% of positions in the retail trade sector are vulnerable to automation.
Sectors that understand why, when, and how to utilize automation are better positioned to adapt their workforce accordingly, including retraining employees to focus on activities not easily automated.
 
The Sector Labour Market Partnerships program funding is not limited to those issues listed above.  If you are interested in learning more about how the Sector Labour Market Partnership program can help your sector, see our Program Guidelines, and contact us at: LabourMarketPartnerships@gov.bc.ca.