It’s no secret that New Brunswick’s labour force is shrinking. Baby boomers are retiring and younger workers are moving to other provinces, leaving many companies in the province scrambling to find enough qualified employees.

A Look at Employment Numbers in Our Region

According to an Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) research study, our region experienced a population decline of 2.4% (31,000 people) between 2012 and 2018. Over the next decade, roughly 229,000 Atlantic Canadians are expected to retire from the labour force. That said, many young people will be graduating from post-secondary education. How can we convince them to stay and work in New Brunswick? How can we supercharge our immigration recruitment efforts to attract new talent?

The same ACOA study showed that 50% of surveyed Atlantic Canadian businesses report having difficulties recruiting employees—the highest rate in Canada. Some industries, such as manufacturing firms, are already facing an immediate shortage of labour and skills. Other industries expect to need many more workers over the next five years. We need to act now if New Brunswick is to reverse its dwindling workforce.

A Cautionary Tale Told Time & Time Again

Earlier this year, Adrienne O’Pray represented the New Brunswick Business Council (NBBC) at the 2019 Labour Market Information (LMI) Forum. The Fredericton-based event brought together 120 delegates to discuss the challenges of the aging population in New Brunswick. Adrienne participated on a panel titled “Aligning Education and Training and with the Labour Market,” sharing her insights with the crowd.

Adrienne also served as a panelist at a Statistics Canada event in Moncton over the summer: A Data Story on Atlantic Canada at Work. This event explored the evolving labour market in Atlantic Canada and the ways it influences important socio-demographic factors such as fertility, immigration, and interprovincial migration. Adrienne shared a story of having attended a Vision 2020 conference about two decades ago that predicted a labour shortage in Canada given demographic trends. Yet we did not heed that warning, and now here we are.

Both events illuminated the undeniable fact that New Brunswick’s economy is in trouble. The labour market data told a cautionary tale, urging everyone around the table to take action sooner than later. But what can be done?

The Conversation Continues: Workforce 20/20 Summit

Workforce 20/20 Summit is a highly-anticipated event taking place November 12-13, 2019, at the Delta Beauséjour. Hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton and 3+ Corporation, the event will facilitate important discussions related to workforce attraction and retention as well as the important role of automation.

Adrienne will represent NBBC at the Summit, moderating the “Employers, are you ready?” panel. Other panels include:

  • Practical solutions to workplace challenges
  • Finding talent
  • Employer best practices
  • Workforce diversity
  • Retaining our youth

The FutureReadyNB Gala will take place in tandem with the Workforce 20/20 Summit. NBBC was a key stakeholder in the launch of FutureReadyNB earlier this year; we believe experiential learning is one of the best ways to engage millennials and GenZ workers. This exciting partnership between employers, the New Brunswick government, and public universities creates real, local employment experiences for students across our province. These meaningful and practical opportunities enhance students’ learning, leaving them better prepared for the world of work upon graduation—and connects students to available opportunities in the local labour - making them more likely to stay and work in New Brunswick.

Come join the conversation! Let’s work together to make the future of work in New Brunswick a positive one.