New report says: "It's ours to fix"
TORONTO, May 10 /CNW/ - A new report released today presents a fresh
accounting of the state of Ontario's labour market and calls for a
"Working Better: Creating a High-Performing Labour Market in Ontario"
was written by Tom Zizys, a Fellow at the Metcalf Foundation, a private
family foundation invested in building a just, healthy and creative
The report takes a look back over the past thirty years, describing a
profound alteration in our labour market system. A thorough historical
review and present day analysis underline a significant change in the
thinking and practices that define how work is organized and managed.
Zizys' research indicates that the current system is not serving
Job seekers cannot find work in their chosen fields, are forced to compete against
over-qualified candidates or are limited to short-term, insecure roles;
Employees are stuck in dead-end jobs with little pay, no loyalty, no job
security, no room for advancement and an unclear career path forward;
Employers aren't getting the people they need, aren't keeping the ones they've
got and have low levels of productivity.
What motivated Zizys to undertake the research was a disconnect he saw
between what workers and employers were experiencing. "Employers are
saying that there's a skills shortage and yet we have one of the most
highly educated workforces in the world," he says. This "skills
mismatch" is just one aspect of what he refers to as the "dysfunction"
in the system. Also notable is the over-emphasis in our employment
services on the deficiencies of the individual job-seeker, when the
more pressing issues are navigating a fragmented labour market and
maintaining a career path in a world of precarious work.
But most alarming is the trend toward a growing polarization between
those at the top of the market in knowledge jobs and those at the
bottom in entry-level jobs. While it is not news that middle level
jobs have been disappearing over the past thirty years, we are only
just beginning to understand the implications. "When there was
occupational mobility there was social mobility. Without this we're
left with social exclusion. This equals bad economics and bad social
policy," says Zizys.
The report also refers to a cultural shift in mindset that was triggered
by a new "mania" of cost-cutting in the 1980s. According to Zizys,
we've come to accept without question that layoffs and continual labour
cost reduction are the new normal and a necessary part of doing
business. But, the report states, this is both false and damaging. Not
only is it possible for companies to compete while investing in their
workers, but to survive in a global marketplace, we will increasingly
need to provide higher value-added goods and services, which calls for
a skilled and engaged workforce. "A low-paid workforce is less likely
to put the effort into producing high quality products and services,
and they're cash-strapped consumers too. It doesn't make good business
sense," maintains Zizys.
The report makes clear that there are unavoidable reasons for these
changes. Technological advances, globalization and a socio-political
shift away from the social welfare consensus are the new realities. But
the response is something that we can control. It is Zizys' hypothesis
that the labour market system we have in place today has been
haphazardly pieced together based on an old outdated model. With a
deliberate, collaborative and long-view strategy that responds to the
current situation, the outcomes can improve for all. In short, what is
needed is a new vision for a better labour market that will only come
by bringing all stakeholders together. The elements of a new vision
would include better labour market data and analysis, new strategies
that move beyond economic development to include workforce development
and support for middle jobs.
The report suggests that a new system is not only possible but that many
of the answers are already within reach. Model practices are in play
within specific sectors and organizations, and in industrialized
countries around the world. They just need to be mined and replicated.
"Working Better" is the first report to connect all the dots in the
labour market system. "We've been keeping our eye on this issue for
some time but what Tom has presented to us is a wakeup call. We hope
that it is the first step to creating a new labour market system that
will help Ontario reach its full potential," says Sandy Houston,
President of the Metcalf Foundation.
To download the report go to: www.metcalffoundation.com
SOURCE Metcalf Foundation
For further information:
To arrange an interview, contact:
Julia Howell, (416) 402-4274