New Brunswick

Not enough workers to fill gap in southeastern N.B., commerce chamber says

Chamber CEO said analysis showed that in the last quarter of 2021, there were 5,300 job postings in the southeast region.

Better affordable housing, immigrant and student retention needed

John Wishart, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, said there aren't enough people to fill the labour market gap in southeastern New Brunswick. (Radio-Canada)

There aren't enough people to fill a growing number of jobs in southeast New Brunswick, according to the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton. 

CEO John Wishart said analysis showed that in the last quarter of 2021, there were 5,300 job postings in the southeast region.

"We simply don't have enough people to fill that gap," he said in an interview with CBC News. 

The chamber surveyed its members between late November and mid-December last year, asking them to identify the biggest challenge to company growth.

Difficulty finding employees was the leading response, and more than half of the surveyed members said they had a shortage of skilled workers. Wishart said some of the hardest-hit sectors include healthcare, transportation, finance and insurance, construction and retail and tourism.

Marshall Canada, an aerospace and defence manufacturing company, announced plans this week to open a plant in Moncton and start hiring for 65 positions later this year.

"It seems odd that on the day when a company announces it's relocating or establishing a business here, that one of my first instincts is to ask, where are we going to find the workers?" Wishart said.

Approximately eight per cent of employed New Brunswickers work in the manufacturing sector.

While population growth and the number of newcomers in New Brunswick is increasing, Wishart said the gap between retiring baby boomers and the influx of new workers hasn't closed.

There was a 200 per cent increase in newcomers choosing Moncton as their destination from 2006 to 2015, but less than half of those immigrants remained five years after landing, according to a research study by the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data, and Training.

Wishart said aside from attracting more people to New Brunswick, the province needs to do a better job retaining students.

"We need to do a better job of telling them that they can make a career and a future here in New Brunswick at competitive wages," he said.

A research study published last September shows 20 per cent of international students and 63 per cent of domestic graduates from the University of New Brunswick are still in the province three years after graduation.

Affordable housing

Wishart said a lack of affordable housing is compounding the province's labour problem.

"If we attract enough people to come and work here, do we have a place for them to stay?" he asked, adding there should be options for people across the spectrum.

The vacancy rates for apartments have fallen to nearly zero in some New Brunswick communities at the same time that rental rates are increasing at a faster pace than in some other provinces.

The province is set to release its annual budget next week, which could offer some help to New Brunswick renters, Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch told CBC News in February.

With files from Harry Forestell

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