The largest chunk of Sudbury's employers provide professional, scientific and technical services, according to information from Statistics Canada.
There are 832 local companies providing services in this sector, Reggie Caverson, executive director of Sudbury and Manitoulin Workforce Planning, told those gathered at a local labour market consultation Nov. 6.
Those in this sector do accounting, legal and architectural work, she said. The grouping also includes engineering services, thus encompassing part of the city's mining supply and service industry.
“These are all these kinds of professions related to supporting other industries,” Caverson said. “A lot of companies are contracting out these kinds of services rather than having them in-house.”
Surprisingly, the second largest number of employers, at 828, is real estate. However, Caverson said Statistics Canada includes individual brokers in this grouping.
Specialty trade contractors, which includes construction firms as well a portion of the mining supply and service sector, are in third place with 585 employers.
After that comes ambulatory health care services, with 567 employers, securities, commodity contractors, and other financial services, with 334 employers, management of companies with 313 employers, food services and drinking establishments with 212 employers, construction of buildings with 299 employers, administrative and support services with 283 employers, and repair and maintenance with 263 employers.
In terms of small and medium-sized businesses, food services and drinking establishments employed the largest number of people in the city this year, with 5,080 employees.
This was followed by speciality trade contractors, with 3,491 employees, professional, scientific and technical services with 3,279 employees, ambulatory health care services with 2,334 employees and administrative and support services with 1,964 employees.
Caverson also provided stats with a breakdown of local employers by the number of people they employ. These statistics exclude public service employers.
The largest group in this category, at 3,492, is actually companies where the company owner is the sole employee, while the smallest category, at 12 employers, is companies which employ more than 500 people.
The total number of local employers has decreased from 8,212 in 2011 to 8,167 in 2012. The largest decline is in these one-person businesses, Caverson said. “I think it's very hard to sustain you own business.”
Caverson also provided information about the education levels of local workers are part of her presentation. “We find there are significant fluctuations across the age bracket,” she said.
Among those in the 25-34 age bracket, for example, there's eight per cent who have no certificate, eight per cent who are in the trades, 22 per cent who have just a high school diploma, 23 per cent with a university degree and 36 per cent with a college diploma.
“We find a lot of people in our community age 25 to 34 are going to college,” Caverson said.
A lot of companies are contracting out these kinds of services rather than having them in-house.
executive director of Sudbury and Manitoulin Workforce Planning
“It seems to be a reflection of people who leave high school with or without their diploma, get into the workforce, find they're not making enough money, and they decide to go back into a trade or something at college.”
The numbers are much different in those over the age of 45, Caverson said.
In the 45-54 age bracket, for example, 17 per cent have no certificate, 27 per cent have just a high school diploma, 13 per cent are in the trades, 17 per cent have a university degree and 26 per cent have a college diploma.
Because older workers tend to have lower education levels, many times they have a hard time finding another job if they're laid off, she said.
Finally, Caverson provided Statistics Canada information showing those moving to Greater Sudbury almost balances those who move away. In 2007-2011, 23,107 people moved to the city, while 24,177 moved away.
The workforce planning board's labour market consultation included about 70 people from various sectors in the city, Caverson said.
They were asked during roundtable discussions what they thought the city's top industries are, which industries are growing or declining, the greatest challenges facing local industries, and how these challenges can be addressed.
While the Statistics Canada data is useful, it's also important to talk to local employers and workers about what they think, Caverson said.
Information gathered at the input session will be included in the workforce planning board's labour market report, due to be released in February, she said.
Andrew Blais, marketing and client relations co-ordinator with Creative Odyssey Marketing and Design, was one of those who participated in the labour market consultation.
He said his group said the top industries in the city are the mining, health care, technology and environment sectors.
Blais said there's been a lot of growth in both the environment and health-care sectors.
The mining sector's growth seems to have levelled off, he said, while education is declining — at least at the elementary and secondary levels — because of declining enrolment.
He said his group saw a lack of hands-on programs and life skills training at the secondary school level as one of the biggest challenges to the workforce, and thinks more emphasis should be put on this area.
“Students are being asked to choose a career without having a lot of hands-on experience,” Blais said. “They might think they want to do it, but when they get out there, they say 'This is not what I thought.'”
Also participating in the consultation was Jonathan Laderoute, policy and communications manager with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce. Laderoute also sits on Sudbury and Manitoulin Workforce Planning's board.
According to his group, some of the city's top industries are mining, construction, manufacturing, health care, retail, hospitality and recreation.
They said the mining and construction industries are growing, while the hospitality industry and education are contracting.
“With sport and recreation, the growth wants to go more, but we're in a case where the physical infrastructure is limiting that sector from growing,” Laderoute said.
One of the challenges facing the local workforce is replacing the ageing workforce in the skilled trades.
“What about the 72-year-old bricklayer that wants to retire and get out of it?” he asked. “What does that mean in terms of him leaving his job?”
Laderoute said the government needs to reform rules to reduce the number of mentors required for every apprentice undergoing training.
He said he thought the labour market consultation was “great.”
“Too bad it's only one time a year,” Laderoute said. “I think it's a great forum to bring all these community groups together.”