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Hidden Talent: Seek out untapped demographics for talent, Fix Network’s Debbie McCarthy says

Quebec City, Quebec — These days, talented tradespeople are few and far between, and those looking for a collision centre are a hot commodity—luckily our industry has people like Debbie McCarthy who know exactly how to fit your company culture with what today’s industry demands.

McCarthy, Fix Network’s global v-p of human resources, delivered a presentation last week at Fix Network’s National Conference in Quebec City, where she delivered some news that could be taken as a shock to some business owners.

“It is not just about money anymore,” she said in an interview with Collision Repair following her presentation. “People are looking for benefits, flexible time and other things; not just financial benefits.”

While individual shops fight with each other to secure the talent local to their area, McCarthy instead encourages managers to take a step back, look at labour issues from a global perspective and ask themselves where the talent is coming from.

She says, for example, “It wouldn’t make sense to target a place like Switzerland with 2 percent unemployment, whereas South Africa has an unemployed population of 33.9 percent, so that is something we should look at.”

On the other hand, McCarthy also says “it’s not all about immigration” and that there are untapped demographics already here in Canada that are not being adequately engaged by the collision repair industry.

“Again, we should step back and look at that and ask, ‘Is our business inclusive? Are we doing enough to attract that talent?’ For example, the unemployment rate for Indigenous people is 11 percent, whereas the rest of Canada is at 5.4. Why are we not going after talent in those areas?”

According to McCarthy, Canada finds itself in a tricky position where we are forced to compete directly with U.S. markets for labour, a pool that shrinks more by the year. Her current estimates show that the U.S. has 11 million vacant jobs and only six million unemployed people—so they are on the hunt, to say the least.

As such, repair centres need to be proactive in their recruiting efforts as the labour strain doesn’t appear to be easing up anytime soon.

“What’s challenging today will be even more challenging ten years from now,” said McCarthy.

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