More than 700,000 Ontarians will be unemployable by 2021: report

TORONTO, Feb. 3 /CNW/ - More than 700,000 people in Ontario will be unemployable by 2021 due to inadequate skills and education, says a groundbreaking report released today by Seneca College president emeritus Dr. Rick Miner.

"If current trends continue, hundreds of thousands of people will lack the necessary skills to find any work," Dr. Miner said in a speech today to the Canadian Club of Toronto.

Dr. Miner, now an independent consultant, noted that the 700,000 would be in addition to the five per cent of people who are traditionally unemployed, bringing the total to more than 1.1 million unemployed.

"The unemployment crisis in Ontario will be far more severe than the current recession."

Dr. Miner's speech today presented the findings from his new report, People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People: Ontario's Labour Market Future.

Using data from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Finance, Statistics Canada, and a recent study by the Obama administration in the U.S., Dr. Miner said it can be conservatively estimated that at least 75 per cent of workers in Ontario will need postsecondary education and/or training by 2021 if they are to be employable in Ontario's new innovation economy.

However, if current trends continue, only about 64 per cent of the workforce in Ontario is actually expected to have acquired postsecondary credentials by that point. The shortfall will mean a lot more jobs without people.

Meanwhile, due to the retirement of the baby boomers and an under-qualified workforce, there will be about 1.3 million job openings throughout the economy that will go unfilled.

"We have to accept that the demographic changes that are coming cannot be wished away," Dr. Miner said. "The impact will be real and its implications are frightening."

"Our members are already facing a shortage of qualified employees in the years ahead," said Clive Thurston, president of the Ontario General Contractors Association. "Now there's clear evidence that this situation will get a lot worse. We need to work with government and educators right now to address this challenge."

While increasing immigration could help attract more skilled workers to Ontario, it will not solve the problem. Immigrants do not fare as well as native-born Canadians in terms of employability. Too often their credentials are not appropriately recognized and/or they require additional education and training.

Dr. Miner said Ontario must begin taking action now to address this challenge. A strategy must be implemented to increase the level of education and training (college, university, apprenticeship, industry, professional) in the province, he said.

He also said it is essential that Ontario increases the participation in the workforce of groups that are traditionally under-represented, such as aboriginals, women, people with disabilities, younger and older workers. These could be important sources of additional workers.

"We need to make significant changes," he said. "If we don't, the result will be an economy that can't complete globally and a society that can't provide opportunities for people to find employment."

"At a time when we are worried about economic recovery, this report is a stark call to action for government, industry and educators and identifies a much bigger problem," said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "Ontario needs to make a dramatic shift in its approach to higher education and training."

SOURCE Colleges Ontario

For further information: For further information: Sally Ritchie, Senior Communications Officer, Colleges Ontario, (416) 596-0744 ext. 242, (416) 471-2194 Cell


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