Report: Saskatchewan economy will suffer without greater effort to curtail labour shortage

REGINA, Jan. 30, 2013 /CNW/ - If Saskatchewan's economy is going to continue on its path of accelerated growth, the province will need a new strategy for supplying labour. That is the conclusion of a report released today in Regina and published by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary. Author Herb Emery evaluates Saskatchewan's labour situation and what the provincial government has done, or has planned, to ensure jobs get filled.

"The Saskatchewan government is to be commended for its efforts to date on labour-force planning and its actions to enhance migration to the province," Emery writes. "The next steps needed for Saskatchewan to produce the necessary labour supply for its growth targets will require more policy effort and public costs than efforts to date."

Specifically, the author references the government of Saskatchewan's forecast that the province will require an additional 60,000 new workers by 2020 if the province is to meet its population target of 1.2 million.

To avoid an economically damaging shortage in labour supply, Emery recommends the province adopt a number of policy measures:

  • Speed up current plans for changing the post-secondary system so as to encourage students to seek out programs and opportunities that align with labour demand
  • Stay away from foreign temporary workers as this is not a long-term solution
  • Develop cyclical infrastructure planning so that public projects provide jobs during periods of low private sector demand for labour
  • Make the most of human capital investment made to date by incentivizing apprentices to complete their programs
  • Focus on attracting males aged 15 to 24 to join the labour force as this group is particularly underemployed

Saskatchewan needs to act immediately on these recommendations given the potential repercussions to the province's economy, Emery argues. Labour shortages are bad for investment because companies are deterred by the inability to find labour or an increased cost of hiring, which reduces their rate of return. The author points out that this is particularly true in Saskatchewan's booming and critical resource sector.

The report can be found at www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/publications

SOURCE: The School of Public Policy - University of Calgary

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