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Canada’s small businesses rate hiring as 2015’s biggest challenge

Sentiment is about the same as last year but finding the right employees is getting harder

A new survey finds that Canadian small business owners say finding qualified employees is their biggest challenge for the coming year. That puts them on a far different footing from their American counterparts, who rate finding new customers and government regulation as bigger hurdles. The survey, carried out on behalf of business software company Sage, asked 800 North American business owners to rate different challenges and areas of focus for the coming year.

Chart showing Canadian small-business ranking of challenges for the coming year, with “finding qualified employees” coming in first.

The interesting thing the survey found, that may have some bearing on the economic outlook overall, is that the hiring question jumped markedly from last year. In the equivalent 2014 survey, finding qualified employees was the sixth-highest rated challenge. At the same time, survey respondents didn’t feel that this year’s business outlook was significantly different for them than the previous year. That would seem to indicate that some of the demographic trends that have been on the horizon for a long time — most notably the retirement of the Baby Boomers — may actually be starting to bite in the job market.

We’ve known for some time that hiring is getting harder. Canada’s workforce is shrinking as a whole and companies are often looking for the “purple squirrel” — the perfect employee with all necessary qualifications, no training required.

For the employers out there beating the bushes for the best and brightest, this year’s Canada’s 50 Best Employers ranking provides some valuable insight into the qualities that can make your company a great place to work — and a beacon for the most qualified job-seekers.