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A red screwdriver. (Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock)
A red screwdriver. (Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock)

Canada Competes

Not enough skilled labour? Here are four reasons Add to ...

1. Immigration

$20-billion: That’s how much underemployment among immigrants to Canada is costing our economy each year in lost earnings, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2013, Canada will welcome between 240,000 and 265,000 newcomers, Citizenship and Immigration Canada says. But, on average, their paycheques will be just 60 per cent of those handed to workers born here (down from 80 per cent for immigrants who came to this country in the 1970s), the OECD says. According to a 2012 report from CIBC World Markets, immigration accounts for one-fifth of the productivity gap between Canada and the U.S. over the past 10 years.

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2. Skilled trades

430,452: That’s how many apprentices are were registered in 2010 in the major trades across Canada – just over 2 1/2 times the number in 1995, according to Statistics Canada’s latest numbers. In December, the federal government launched the new Skilled Trades Stream immigration to help alleviate shortages, but will accept a meagre 3,000 applications this year. Meanwhile, the construction sector alone will need roughly 320,000 new workers by 2020 – and that’s just to replace those who are retiring, according to the Canadian Construction Association. Michael Atkinson, president of the association, estimates that just half of those will be trained here in Canada.

3. Native population

$400.5-billion: That’s the “cumulative benefit” Canada would reap by 2026 if we were to close the education and labour market gaps between native and non-native Canadians, according to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards. With the median age just 27, compared with 40 for the non-Aboriginal population, and the total native population set to increase to 1.4 million by 2017 (from 1.1 million in 2006), according to Statscan, that’s a work force that no industry can afford to ignore. But a 2012 Conference Board of Canada report found that 57 per cent of businesses listed lack of qualifications, formal documentation or certification as a barrier to hiring Aboriginal workers. The result: The unemployment rate among Canada’s Aboriginal population is just under 13 per cent, compared with about 7.3 per cent for the rest of the population, according to Statscan.

4. Education

280,000: The number of net new jobs Canada created in two recessionary years leading up to September, 2010, that needed a university degree, according to the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Meanwhile, the country shed 260,000 jobs that didn’t need one. Yet, fewer than one-quarter of working-age Canadians have a university degree (compared with 30-plus per cent in Norway and the U.S.), according to the Conference Board. The figure is about the same for college, though, as the Conference Board points out, that’s mostly thanks to Quebec’s CEGEP system; take out Quebec and just 10 per cent of Canadians have a college diploma. Plus, we rank at the back of the pack among 16 of our peer countries when it comes to producing PhD graduates (Sweden churns out 3.5 times more PhDs).

 

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