Canada's skills crisis: from consultation to action

HAMILTON, ON, Sept. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - 2012 has been the tipping point for Canadian business confronting skills and labour shortages. A crisis that had been hidden by the recession is now fully apparent. Today, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is releasing a report on the country-wide skills consultations undertaken throughout the last 12 months: Canada's skills crisis: what we heard.

As part of the Top 10 Barriers to Canadian Competitiveness initiative, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its network held its largest-ever consultation with our membership on a single issue: the skills crisis. We hosted roundtable discussions in 14 locations, and we mobilized our network to lead the conversation, asking for their best practices, and polling their opinions via eight online surveys.

"Getting a handle on the issues and suggestions which emerged from our consultations isn't easy. One size does not fit all," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "However, three issues were raised wherever we met: upgrading the skills of existing Canadian workers, improving connections between educators and employers, and getting the right approach to immigration. We also heard a great deal about the need to do much better in fully realizing the potential of Aboriginal Canadians."

The extensive consultations will inform and guide the work of the Canadian Chamber in the months and years ahead. We want to make the largest contribution we can to help our members confront the skills crisis.

As it moves from the consultation phase to action, the Canadian Chamber has identified four key priorities:

  1. Upskilling - Upgrading the skills of the existing labour force and better employ under-utilized groups
  2. Immigration - Ensuring immigration policy is aligned with local labour markets and employers' needs
  3. Education - Improving the connections between educators and employers to balance supply with demand for skilled trades and highly skilled occupations
  4. Aboriginal peoples - Focusing on education and workforce development especially in the West and the territories where the economic and social opportunities and risks are greatest for this population.

"With our cross-country reach and the depth of our collective experience, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and its partners are uniquely positioned to help address these challenges," Beatty said. "We planned an initiative that is far more hands-on than just another study. The test of our success will not be the quality of a report, but the tangible differences that result from this major undertaking.  Meeting these challenges and improving the competitiveness of our nation is vital for our businesses, Canadian workers and for our nation as a whole," Beatty concluded.

Canada's skills crisis: what we heard can be found on www.chamber.ca

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the vital connection between business and the federal government. It helps shape public policy and decision-making to the benefit of businesses, communities and families across Canada with a network of over 420 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, representing 192,000 businesses of all sizes in all sectors of the economy and in all regions. News and information are available at www.chamber.ca or follow us on Twitter @CdnChamberofCom.

SOURCE: CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

For further information:

Émilie S. Potvin
Director, Public Affairs & Media Relations
Office: 613.238.4000 (231)
Cell.: 613.797.1860
epotvin@chamber.ca

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CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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