Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition seeks meeting with Premier Wynne on unpaid interns

TORONTO, Nov. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition, which represents employers, educators, students, unions and others, is calling for a meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne to discuss solutions to some of the issues involving unpaid internships.

"Minimum standards must be in place to ensure that young people are benefiting from the internship experience," said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "The government must work with stakeholders to address this issue."

The workforce shortage coalition is calling for the Ministry of Labour to develop a plan to better inform students and employers about interns' rights and responsibilities. Representatives from the coalition are looking to meet with Premier Wynne to discuss the proposal in more detail, along with other issues related to the training of the workforce.

Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition represents more than 100,000 employers in Ontario and millions of employees. The coalition, which has more than 20 member organizations, was formed in 2007 to examine ideas to create a more highly skilled and qualified workforce in the province.

The recommendation on unpaid interns is included in a new report, Employment-focused Education for a World-leading Economy, which the coalition has submitted to the premier and government.

The report is based on proposals from a June symposium that examined the skills mismatch in Ontario - the gap between the skills held by many people seeking work and the qualifications sought by employers. A report by the Conference Board of Canada estimates the skills mismatch costs Ontario as much as $24.3 billion a year in lost economic opportunity.

According to Allan O'Dette, the president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, "producing a strong workforce will require a coordinated effort among businesses, educators and government."

The coalition's recommendations to government include:

  • That the government ensures all high school students in Ontario have opportunities to take part in applied programs as part of their education.
  • That the federal and Ontario governments work together on the Canada Job Grant to ensure the province's most vulnerable citizens get the training they need to fill good jobs and that existing initiatives that are meeting critical training needs identified by the province are not displaced.
  • That Ontario's system for transferring completed post-secondary credits be improved so that more students can pursue a combination of both university and college education.
  • That the province set targets and implement measures to produce greater numbers of apprentices.

"We need to promote the full range of career opportunities available to young people in the new economy," said Ian Howcroft, the vice-president, Ontario division, of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. "At the same time, we must ensure people entering the workforce have the advanced skills and qualifications they need to successfully fill available positions."

Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition includes the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors, the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the Certified General Accountants of Ontario, the College Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations, the Electricity Distributors Association, the Greater Toronto Hotel Association, the Ontario Aerospace Council, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Environment Industry Association, the Ontario General Contractors Association, the Ontario Marine Operators Association, the Ontario Mining Association, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, the Ontario Tourism Council, the Power Workers' Union, the Retail Council of Canada, Skills Canada-Ontario, the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists, the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, and Trees Ontario.

The coalition's submission to government can be found on the Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition website at www.workforcecoalition.ca.

SOURCE: Colleges Ontario

For further information:

Rob Savage
Director of Communications
Colleges Ontario
647-258-7687
savage@collegesontario.org


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