The Gap Between “Us” and “Them”

Find a Job

Rick McCarten

There is a significant gap in Canada between employers and potential talent. As an industry, we need to do more than simply acknowledge the gap; industry leaders need to take responsibility for reducing the gap, igniting the passions and shaping the talent into a strong and effective workforce.How can we best make a change to shrink this gap?By changing ourselves.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard electrical manufacturer and distributor members say they are finding it increasingly more difficult to find and keep young talent. Jobs are remaining vacant for six months because there is no one to fill them.Electro-Federation Canada (EFC) held a session last August to determine our association’s strategies,and the number one objective identified was the need to attract talent to our industry.

The following day I was listening to CBC Radio, which had a segment on youth unemployment. Never in the history of this country are there so many unemployed and underemployed youth as right now. 

How can this be? How can we not find talent —and how can talent not find us?

Have we created a society that is so misaligned that we are pumping out square-pegged students who are unable to fit into available rounded jobs? Have we raised a herd of misfits across the country that just can’t fit into the current work structure or have any interest in holding down a job—the kind of jobs we need them to help fill?

The gap between “us” and “them” appears to be enormous. Why else are there so many vacant jobs and so large a number of unemployed youth occurring at the same time?

The gap between employer and potential employees reminds me of the gap between married couples who are going through a rough spell. Anyone who has been involved in this process (or anyone who has been married for that matter!) will attest to the first thing that couples say the other person has to improve: “If only he/she would appreciate the pressure I am having at work,” or “If only he/she would be a little more considerate about the amount of work needed to keep the house and kids running smoothly.” 

Most social workers will tell you that in any relationship, the only person you can ever hope to change is yourself.This dilemma is no different than in our current talent search challenge. We can’t change the youth of today. We can’t point out their mistakes, or advise them on how to improve their behaviour. All we can do is change ourselves and the approach we need to take to better attract them, to keep them engaged and to help them grow their capacity to fill the jobs we require. 

Whether it is our fault or not, we are the only ones who can make it change. And that means taking your company and adapting it to the new direction that will reduce the gap. 

This year,EFC has set extensive research to arrive at key factors to accomplish just that. We are looking at both young talent and at our own industry to develop a playbook of our strengths and weaknesses with talent acquisition. We will provide a perspective analysis on our attitudes and those of millennials’, as well as key areas that we as an industry and you as an employer need to do to attract, train and retain talent.

Their search findings will be presented and distribute dat this year’s EFC conference in late May and available to any member across Canada during the first week of June. Stay tuned to—what will be—incredible insight on how our industry can band together to minimize the gap.


Rick McCarten is is VP, Electrical Council, Electro-Federation Canada.


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