By Martin Charlton Communications
Anyone can apply to the “Help Wanted” sign in a storefront window. It’s finding a qualified
applicant that has become challenge.
According to business leaders in Canada, this country is in the midst of a skilled labour
shortage – and it’s limiting the growth of businesses. According to a recent survey by the Business
Development Bank of Canada, 53 per cent of small- and medium-sized businesses say the labour shortage
will cause them to limit business investment.
“There’s a systemic issue right now that’s not so much labour as it is skilled labour,” said Mandy
Rennehan, the “Blue Collar CEO,” who educated and entertained those in attendance at the annual
Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association convention in November.
“The industry is changing so dramatically that
these people have to try to keep up with everything
without a modernized workforce,” said
Rennehan. “What’s happening is that all of those
‘geeky’ people you never thought would ever go
to trade school are the people we want. We want
them to take on the jobs because we really want
and need that critical thinking. It just doesn’t exist
“We don’t have that array of colourful talent
to really be able to offer these companies to
In a 2018 survey by ManpowerGroup, 41 per
cent of Canadian employers reported difficulty
filling jobs. The survey also found that the most
in-demand jobs require post-secondary training,
but not necessarily a university degree.
Skilled trade workers such as welders, mechanics
or electricians have been among the top
“It’s time we stop
thinking of bluecollar
jobs and skilled
trades as second
class. A healthy
on a thriving bluecollar
– Mandy Rennehan,
The Blue Collar CEO
five hardest roles to fill in Canada for the past 10
years. Sales representatives, drivers, engineers
and technicians are also on the list.
Labour market analysts in Canada feel that companies have used education as a measure of skill.
Rennehan argued that skills and education are not the same thing.
“In Canada and a lot of other countries, the ‘smart kids’ go to university. The ‘dumb kids’ go to community
colleges and trade schools,” she said, tongue-in-cheek. “That’s a real issue for me. If you thought
that renovating your home was expensive before, it’s about to get a lot, lot worse.
“I have people showing up on my doorstep who are depressed and repressed, who are complacent
and who have no money because they went to university for three or four years for nothing because their
mom and dad wanted them to.”
Rennehan is proof that a university education doesn’t necessarily equate to success in the business
world. She is a self-taught multi-millionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist.
thinkbigmagazine.ca | Quarter 1 2020 | Think BIG 19