The Undeniable Albertan Labor Shortage, and What the Government Is Planning to Do About It

With 104,000 job vacancies at the end of 2022, what is 2023 looking like for this province’s labor market? Learn all about the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP)

The Western Canadian province of Alberta is witnessing a record number of job openings since the beginning of last year, with around 104,000 unfilled positions being added over the course of 2022; of these, 24,500 were accrued in December alone, showcasing an upward trend in the Albertan labor shortage. These shortages are especially concentrated in the sectors of energy, manufacturing, and construction, which are known for having a pressing need for skilled workers and tradespeople. The numbers at hand are exceeding the expectations of many economists, and are predicted to continue into 2025.

Southern Alberta is a strong illustration of this pattern. As per the Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL), the Lethbridge-Medicine Hat region boasts 6,000 job vacancies, with the participation rate having dropped 5.8 percent since the start of 2023 alone. This makes it a “job-seekers market,” wherein employers are flocking to job fairs to fill their postings. Among the employees most sought after in the city, there is a particular need for skilled trades, equipment operators, and Class 1 drivers. For this, employers are investing in employee hiring and retention schemes.

A BCA report from November 2022 indicates that 62% of Albertan business respondents indicate a willingness to expand employment over 2023. This accompanies the increasing – and sustained – labor market optimism among provincial employers, who are also expecting high sales for their products and services over the same time frame.

These trends have resulted in the Government of Alberta increasing its efforts at filling labor market requirements through immigration. The province announced the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) to allow increased opportunities for foreign workers who have close relatives in Alberta. The AAIP – which allows the province to nominate qualified workers to gain permanent residency – would bring in more skilled foreign workers to take up important roles in the economy. It would hope to achieve the same by allocating 25 percent of express entry stream nominations towards those foreign workers that specialize in in-demand occupations and hold family ties with Alberta.

Moreover, plans are being made to ease up the transition process for newcomers into certain industries. For example, the Calgary Construction Association (CCA) has suggested the revision of outdated accreditation recognition, so that new immigrants into Canada can transfer their high-value skills to construction (an industry in particular need of workers).

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