Colleges Ontario - Strategy needed to address the skills shortage

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - Ontario's Workforce Shortage Coalition is urging
provincial politicians to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the
skills shortage.
    "Ontario faces immediate and long-term challenges that threaten our
economy and the quality of our services," said Linda Franklin, the president
and CEO of Colleges Ontario, one of the organizations in the coalition.
"Ontario needs to lead the way in developing a comprehensive strategy to avoid
a skills shortage crisis."
    The coalition, which represents more than 100,000 employers and millions
of employees, appeared today before the province's Standing Committee on
Finance and Economic Affairs to speak to the skills shortage affecting a
variety of sectors.
    The province's economy faces serious challenges. There is an urgent need
to retrain workers who have been laid off in manufacturing and forestry, while
other sectors struggle to find qualified employees. The workforce shortage
problems are expected to get worse, due to the retirement of the baby boomers
and slower population growth.
    Even with strong immigration levels, the Conference Board of Canada
estimates Ontario could be short more than 360,000 skilled employees by 2025.
This could further escalate to a shortage of more than 560,000 skilled
employees by 2030.
    Everything from construction to health care, agriculture, mining and home
care services will be affected by a shortage of skilled employees.
    Government leaders are aware of the challenge. Federal Human Resources
and Social Development Minister Monte Solberg has spoken about the skills
shortage challenges across Canada, and the Ontario government also
acknowledged the challenge in its fall economic update.
    The priority now is developing the strategy to address this issue, to
ensure there are qualified employees available in all sectors.
    "The skills shortage must be a priority for the government and for all
political parties," said David Zurawel, the vice-president of policy and
government relations for the Council of Ontario Construction Associations. "We
are urging the province to work with business, educators and labour to develop
a comprehensive plan to address this challenge before it is too late."

    Ontario's Workforce Shortage 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.

For further information:

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

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