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Are Quebec family businesses facing a talent gap?

NOV. 9: A JMSB panel probes the future of the province’s enterprises
October 31, 2017
By Yuri Mytko


In a survey on hiring intentions conducted by Workopolis, 32 per cent of 256 Canadian employers said they planned to increase staff over the next year. But 68 per cent also said it is very or somewhat difficult to find the people they need to hire.

Is there a talent gap in Quebec? How can local entrepreneurs attract and retain capable employees to grow their businesses? And how can family enterprises make best use of family members?

These are some of the questions that will be addressed on Thursday, November 9, when the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) hosts a panel discussion presented by the National Bank Initiative in Entrepreneurship and Family Business.

Speakers include Charles Bierbrier, JMSB’s entrepreneur-in-residence and founder of Bierbrier Brewing, Carmine D'Argenio, president of BMW-MINI Laval, Patricia Saputo, CFO of Placements Italcan, and Tom Velan, chairman of the board at Velan Inc.

Alexandra Dawson, associate professor of management and director of the National Bank Initiative, says small firms (with fewer than 100 employees) represent almost 98 per cent of all businesses in Quebec.

“Over the 2005-15 period, they outperformed medium and large businesses in terms of employment growth, adding more than 1 million employees.”


Culture fit and family succession

Finding the right people to join a business plays a crucial role in its future success, growth and profitability, but it is not always easy.

“The individual needs the right experience and skills, but must also fit into the firm's culture, values and goals. This can be especially tricky in small firms, where even adding one additional person can alter the existing balance,” Dawson explains.

She adds that in family businesses, which represent around 80 per cent of all North American firms, the preferred route to hiring new people is often through the family.

“While this may mean a greater alignment of culture, values and goals, it doesn't automatically mean they will be the best person for the job. This becomes particularly tricky when the business is transferred from one generation to the next and is one of the key contributing factors to the lack of successful business transfers.”

In fact, less than a third of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12 per cent into the third generation and only about three per cent into the fourth generation or beyond.

“This context is what makes it imperative for academic institutions to contribute to preparing both incumbent and, especially, future generations for the major shifts that are happening and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future,” Dawson says.

“Are Quebec businesses facing a talent gap?”
takes place at Concordia on Thursday, November 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the University Conference Centre on the ninth floor of the John Molson Building (1450 Guy). Register today!

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