Local Businesses Unhappy With Availability of Qualified Workers, According to Survey

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Forty-two businesses who employed summer students through the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation participated in a survey ran by the EDC during the summer of 2018.

Council is set to go over the results of this survey during their next meeting and pass it as a motion of information.

In a report attached to the council agenda by Deputy CAO Tom Vair, some key results of this survey, completed significantly by small businesses with under 10 employees (64% of responses), include:

  • When asked about the awareness of supports offered by economic development agencies, 88% indicated they were aware of SSMEDC supports, 74% aware of SSMIC, 71% aware of CDC, 50% of City of SSM Enterprise Services and 69% of FedNor.
  •  51% were Neutral or Positive with their experience with Municipal Taxes while 49% were Negative (20%) or Very Negative (29%)
  • 54% were Neutral on their experience with municipal zoning/building requirements, 10% Positive, 24% Negative, 12% Very Negative
  • 50% of businesses indicated ‘Yes’ that the City’s strategy to make the community more attractive and user friendly for pedestrians, public transportation users and cyclists would help their business; 21% indicated Maybe and 29% indicated ‘No’.
  • 44% of businesses indicated Negative or Very Negative when asked about availability of qualified workers
  • 42% of businesses were Positive or Very Positive responding to their experience retaining employees. 35% were Neutral, 18% Negative, 5% Very Negative

“Given that 42 businesses completed the survey, the results would not be considered statistically valid. The results do provide some insight into the views of the business community, particularly as it relates to small businesses (under 10 employees) in the service sector. It should be noted that SSMIC undertakes an independent survey of its clients which may have impacted participation rates,” the report says.

Monday evening’s council meeting has been postponed due to weather shutdowns in the city.


  1. I think that successful business starts with investment in staff…from the ground up. Doesn’t it seem far fetched to hitch a business’ success on workers from out of town who may have certain qualifications but may not be long term compatible with life in SSM?? What happened to investing in the local labour market? What about the apprentices locally who are scrounging for full time hours.. struggling to obtain their hourly requirements to move to the next level… Why are the employers who are large and could take on less qualified and train them to standard not being held accountable? I rarely get political but this makes no sense to me at all. At.all.

  2. How ironic they are saying this now, after the Sault wanting to bring in people from the Phillipines/Ottawa to take over the jobs at the plant. You know, so they don’t have to pay taxes on them. Seems like greediness goes way deeper in the Sault than we thought. Especially when our own city finds excuses NOT to hire their own local educated and talented people. No wonder this city is going down the drain.!

  3. Yada yada yada. Maybe we need more qualfied employers. Many want people to work like slaves for peanuts and only offer part time work so they don’t have to pay benefits. You get what you pay for. There is also no employer loyalty anymore. Let’s look at both sides of this coin.

    • Mike I can agree that we’d likely find employers like you’re describing but for myself I hire people without experience, I also offer them education (training and certifications worth around $15K) and even when someone doesn’t have experience I never pay less than $19/hour to start. We offer work from home opportunities to people (for example stay at home parents who would be just working to pay daycare) and many other incentives. At the end of the day, people have to want to work, have to want to learn and no matter how many tools you give them they need to want to follow through and put in the effort. And often times it’s those soft skills that most employees need the most help with. But maybe it’s a catch 22. They won’t get those skills without experience and visa versa.

    • Richard Moore Soft skills, in a nut shell, are those skills that cannot be trained. You can give them all the education & training they would need (hard skills) but these skills are more ingrained. Sure people can be taught time management skills and better customer service but the ‘soft’ skills aren’t generally part of a curriculum.

  4. Even with subsidies it can be hard to give someone without experience an opportunity. Their wages may be subsidized for a short time but there’s a lot of other costs associated with hiring an employee. Aside from that, as a business owner the hardest skills to find in potential candidates are soft skills. Which is not often something we can’t train on, we can only hope they were taught/learned them through parents/life experiences.

    • Associated costs with hiring employees is nothing new – its just part of business – the problem today too many companies/agencies reply of government handouts or only survive with government funding. I wouldn’t want to embarrass any one by name.

  5. Then offer to train people rather than looking for someone super 100% qualified right off the hop. Start making qualified workers. Employers shouldn’t look at qualifications, they should look for the potential, in each individual, to achieve the qualifications they require so desperately.

  6. This is why youth leaves…. every business in town expects everyone to have degrees or 10 years experiences. If they provided training we would not have this problem. Theres a huge amount of able workers AVAILABLE.

  7. Then there are businesses like The Weed Man that trained my daughter, got paid from the employment company that sent her there then when she goes in for her shift after the company was paid for her training (which my daughter didn’t even get $1000 of the $3000 they were provided for ONE MONTH) the owner says to another employee “Why is she here? It was just for the money”!!!! Are you kidding me???

  8. Surveys are always one sided before they even start. Maybe companies make realistic requirements and achievable goals. Its no longer equal opportunity – I don’t care who you are in this city. You have to have the proper name/relative to get the better jobs (period) its been this way for over 50 yrs. Nothing has changed.

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