Ottawa, November 1, 2010 — Canada needs a plan now to tackle the shrinking workforce and the heightened skill levels required by employers. This is ACCC’s message to the House of Commons Finance Committee today.
The first “baby boomer” will be 65 in 2011. Millions more will reach the age of retirement in rapid succession. With fertility rates below replacement, even with immigration, Canada’s population will grow slowly.
As we collectively age, the proportion of Canadians who do not participate in the labour market will increase from the current 44% to 61% by 2031. Statistics Canada projects a shortfall of 1.5 million workers within the decade.
And with the penetration of advanced technology, the proportion of positions requiring post-secondary credentials will rise from the current 70% to about 80%. Currently only 60% of Canadians meet this test. Some regions are already experiencing the two-pronged phenomenon of high unemployment (People without Jobs) and high vacancy rates owing to the inadequate skill levels (Jobs without People).
“These challenges are not uncertain statistical projections; these are realities that require action now,” says James Knight, ACCC President and CEO. “We recommend a dialogue among governments, educational institutions, civil society and the private sector to develop an action plan. Failure to act will mean a falling standard of living, including a weaker health care system.”
Mitigating these challenges will require a wide range of strategies. The prime need is to reach out to marginalized groups who are under-skilled and under-represented in the labour market: Aboriginal peoples, poor immigrants, multi-generation welfare dependents, the disabled, and disengaged youth, particularly young men. The imperative is to equip every Canadian with education for employment.
Other recommendations include: help for Aboriginal learners whose participation in post-secondary education is declining; the recruitment of offshore students; and, college/private sector applied research partnerships targeting productivity gains.
“Canada’s colleges are key to the development of advanced skills required by employers,” Knight says. “They nurture Aboriginal students and other excluded groups through to graduation and employment.”
The Association of Canadian Community Colleges represents 150 colleges, institutes, polytechnics, cegeps and university colleges with 1000 campuses across Canada.
For more information:
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Tel.: (613) 746-5656