Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ex-Minister John Manley Says Ottawa and Industry Need to Address the Skills Gap

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ex-Minister John Manley Says Ottawa and Industry Need to Address the Skills Gap

Article excerpt

Skills gap needs to be addressed now: Manley

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TORONTO - Skills shortages have not yet grown into a national issue, but do have the potential to impact the economy if Ottawa and industry don't start working together, says former federal cabinet minister John Manley.

"We haven't accepted some of the shrill statements that there is a skill crisis in Canada," Manley, head of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, said in a speech Thursday.

"Yes we could use plumbers, pipefitters and electricians in the oilsands... but this is not a national shortage."

Manley cited a recent survey by the council on the needs of 100 of the country's largest companies. It found that 57 per cent felt the skills shortage was a "moderate" problem, while 11 per cent called it a "big" problem.

The survey also found that respondents said the most difficult categories to fill were in engineering, technology and business, particularly in Alberta.

But it wasn't just technical jobs that companies were having difficulty filling. Also cited were positions that required "soft skills" such as communication and managerial duties.

Manley said the shortages will only be exacerbated in the coming years as Baby Boomers begin to retire.

In the meantime, Ottawa needs to ensure there's a national strategy in place to ensure there are enough workers to fill in those gaps, while industry needs to step up to provide more skills training for its current workers.

"I think we need to get at the core of why we're training a lot of people for jobs that don't exist," he said in the half-hour speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto.

For years, the Harper government and industry have complained about labour shortages due to a lack of skills and has introduced several measures, including tighter unemployment insurance rules, as part of an effort to force the jobless to go further afield. …

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