Ontario faces labour shortage of 360,000 people



    TORONTO, Sept. 27 /CNW/ - Ontario faces a labour shortage of more than
360,000 people, which threatens many sectors of the economy, according to a
new Conference Board of Canada report released today by a coalition of
business, education and labour leaders.
    "We are threatened with an escalating shortage of trained people in a
wide range of areas, from manufacturing to business to social services," said
Barbara Taylor, president of Canadore College and chair of the Ontario
colleges' committee of presidents.
    "The challenges in training and retraining sufficient numbers of people
are serious enough now, as the economy suffers from layoffs in major
industries such as the auto sector," said Ian Howcroft, vice-president,
Ontario division, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters. "In the next few years,
the labour market pressures will intensify, as greater numbers of people start
to retire and we don't have a supply of qualified people to replace them.
Ontario must address this challenge now."
    The Conference Board of Canada report found the approaching wave of
retirements in the workforce, matched against Ontario's slowing population
growth and the projected labour demand, will create an escalating shortage of
skilled employees in coming years. Ontario will be short 190,000 skilled
employees in 13 years' time, and that shortage will quickly escalate to more
than 360,000 by 2025 and more than 560,000 by 2030.
    "Ontario will soon be entering a period where pressures begin to mount
significantly," the report says. "The projected shortfall is an important
indicator of the degree to which Ontario's labour market will become
increasingly strained, which could potentially constrain economic growth."
    Everything from construction work and emergency repairs to home-care
services could be affected by a shortage of qualified employees.
    The Conference Board of Canada report was commissioned by a new coalition
of experts, called Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition, which has united to
help the province focus on this potential threat to the province's economy. A
copy of the Conference Board report, along with a report produced by the
coalition, can be found at the Colleges Ontario website at
www.collegesontario.org
    The coalition includes the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association,
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices
Association, the College Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario, CON(*)NECT, the
Council of Ontario Construction Associations, the Ontario Association of
Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists, the Ontario Chamber of
Commerce, the Ontario Mining Association, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel
Association, the Power Workers' Union, Retail Council of Canada, Skills-Canada
Ontario, Ontario Environment Industry Association, Ontario General Contractors
Association, Greater Toronto Hotel Association, Toronto Financial Services
Alliance, Alliance of Ontario Food Processors, and the Ontario Tourism
Council.
    While the coalition acknowledges that some measures have been taken by
both federal and provincial governments, including Employment Ontario,
apprenticeship tax credits and the recently announced Provincial Nominee
Program, it's urging the skills shortage threat be given higher priority. The
coalition is calling on Ontario's political leaders to commit to establishing
a comprehensive provincial skills strategy. The report released today points
to some potential solutions, such as better education and training of
under-represented groups.
    As a first step, the coalition says Ontario must establish a Premier's
Council on Skills that brings the province's experts together to develop a
strategy.
    "Employers throughout the tourism sector are already feeling the labour
crunch," said Terry Mundell, president of the Greater Toronto Hotel
Association. "The skills shortage is a significant challenge for the hotel
industry and tourism as a whole. Since tourism represents 19 per cent of
Ontario's businesses, this is serious."
    "Despite efforts to date, Ontario is still facing a labour shortage of
crisis proportions," said Len Crispino, president and CEO of the Ontario
Chamber of Commerce. "It will take a combined effort on the part of all
stakeholders, to identify and implement long-term solutions, learning from
successful efforts outside of our borders and taking full advantage of the
people and resources here in Ontario, to ensure that our province continues to
be a prosperous place to live and to do business."




For further information:

For further information: Darrell Neufeld, Senior Communications Officer,
Colleges Ontario, (416) 596-0744, ext. 242


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