People Without Jobs — Jobs Without People: Decoding Canada’s ‘Skills Crisis’

Canada has 1.33 million unemployed workers, yet business hired 338,000 temporary foreign workers last year, citing shortages in low-skilled jobs.

By: Dana Flavelle Economy, The Toronto Star

Laid-off welders in Ontario sit idle, while oilsands employers in Alberta are chronically short-handed. High-skill jobs go unfilled, yet university graduates can’t find work. Canada has 1.33 million unemployed workers, yet business hired 338,000 temporary foreign workers last year, citing shortages in such low-skilled jobs as fast-food servers.

Why? One reason cited has been called the skills mismatch or skills shortage, phrases that refer to the growing gap between the skills Canadian employers say they need and the ones job seekers can provide.

Employers say it’s one of the toughest challenges they face; the federal government made it the centrepiece of its 2013 budget, with a training incentive grant for employers called the Canada Job Program.

Labour groups, meanwhile, say the skills crisis has been overblown by employers looking for a way to keep a lid on wages and training costs.

On all sides, there’s precious little agreement about what the skills shortage is, how to address it, and whether it even exists.

There is, however, agreement on the need to address the growing problem of what one observer has called “People without Jobs: Jobs without People.”

How pressing is the ‘skills gap’?

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