Labour ‘seller market’ shapes up as Ottawa employees get greyer

With the job market up, aging employees eyeing retirement and fewer young people to replace them, Ottawa will face stiff competition from other cities for its pool of educated workers, a city labour specialist said yesterday.

Responding to a Statistics Canada report that shows Ottawa workers getting older on average and among Canada’s best educated, Professor Linda Duxbury of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business said for the first time in 50 years Ottawa has more good jobs than pool of employees.


"There’s an undersupply of youth," said Duxbury. "It is going to be a huge issue in respect to recruitment."

The report on labour market activities shows Ottawa reflecting a national trend that finds its workers are older and even more educated than in the past.

"It’s a seller’s market for labour," said Duxbury. "In the previous 50 years, it was a buyer’s market and all of a sudden, we have the exact opposite situation."

Ottawa is going to have to fight to keep its educated workers, said Duxbury.

"For every two people, we only have one to take their place for the next 25 years, at least. And we’re only at the beginning of this."

In Ottawa, the median age for workers is now 40.6. Canada-wide, the median age of the labour force surpassed 40 years for the first time, rising from 39.5 years in 2001 to 41.2 years in the 2006 census.

With governments and high-tech providing much of the capital’s employment, "the Ottawa area is one of most educated areas in the whole country," said Duxbury.

In Ottawa-Gatineau, 225,475 people have a university certificate, diploma or degree at the bachelor’s level or above.

"These people can get a job anywhere in the world, which means that the seller’s market is going to have trouble," said Duxbury. "Everyone wants the same workers."

... but how will they get to work?

  • A majority of capital region commuters still get to work in a car, a Statistics Canada report released yesterday says. About 70 per cent of the region’s nearly 560,000 commuters either drive or are passengers in a personal vehicle to work. That leaves not quite one person in five in Ottawa-Gatineau who employ public transit, the report finds, based on 2006 census numbers. Seven per cent of capital region workers walk to their jobs and two per cent use bicycles.

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