The State of Canada’s Skills Gap

As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement and the technology sector continues to grow, the labour market is undergoing a dramatic transformation. The skills gap in the labour market created by these changes has made it clear that to remain globally competitive, we need to address the growing skills gap.

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Although the unemployment rate has recently dropped to its lowest point in 40 years, candidates still lack the skills to meet changing labour demands, especially as automation revolutionizes the labour market by replacing much of the repetitive, manual work currently performed by humans, and as technology creates new jobs in completely new sectors. These joint developments point to an increasingly mismatched labour market, where the workers displaced by automation are unable to move into new jobs created by technological advancements because they don’t have the new skills required.

With one estimate of Ontario’s lost potential GDP at $24 billion (which is worth about 4% of that province’s total GDP), it’s clear that the costs of leaving the skills gap unaddressed are significant. So how do we work towards shrinking it?

Increased collaboration

One way is to start with the workers of tomorrow. In their 2016 report Strengthening Ontario's Workforce for the Jobs of Tomorrow, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) points to the need for more comprehensive data collection and reporting on labour market trends to enable students to make better-informed decisions about their fields of study based on current and future in-demand occupations.

While many of HRPA’s recommendations require government action, the report highlights the role of collaboration between industry and educational institutions to help bridge the skills gap of the future. Through outreach programs and workforce development initiatives such as internships, co-op placements and apprenticeship programs, organizations can help guide students and young workers into occupations that are in-demand.

Retraining the workforce

When it comes to today’s workforce, it’s important to recognize the role that lifelong learning plays in maintaining competitiveness. As technological innovation changes the skills demanded — and as the emergence of freelancers and the gig economy puts pressure on traditional employment models — businesses will have to respond quickly to keep their workforces competitive.

One way is to consider free online courses or microlearning applications to make the most of your employees’ time and your budget. You might even consider partnering with a local educational institution to offer accredited training programs to train your most motivated employees with the specific skills your business needs. With so many training opportunities available for different needs at various price points, it’s both cost-effective and incredibly easy to introduce these options to your employees.

Culture shift

Underlying the above suggestions is the necessity of reorienting employee development as a competitive advantage. As shifts in technology rapidly change the skills employers require, continual skills upgrading becomes a necessity. As a result, a business that is seen to prioritize education can attract top talent who are intrinsically motivated to stay ahead of the curve.  

Looking for some assistance filling those challenging positions? Let our recruitment consultants help! With access to some of the best talent in the country, combined with thousands of free training resources, let us provide you with the best candidate to complete your workforce!

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