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350 experts meet to address skills shortage

(Toronto, March 4, 2008) – Some 350 representatives from business, labour, education and government gathered today in Toronto to address one of Ontario’s most pressing challenges – the shortage of skilled workers.

Hosted by Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition, the purpose of the symposium is to identify solutions to ensure Ontario has the skilled workers it needs to compete in the global economy.

“There is no longer any question about the existence of the skills shortage,” said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “This symposium is about generating discussion and ideas that will lead to the development of a co-ordinated, long-term skills strategy for the province.”

The workforce challenge is a significant issue in Ontario. While the province struggles to retrain people who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing and forestry sectors, there are also many employers struggling to find sufficient numbers of qualified people.

The challenges will intensify in the years ahead as record numbers of baby boomers retire. It is expected Ontario will be short more than 360,000 skilled employees by 2025, according to a Conference Board of Canada report released by the coalition last fall. This could escalate to a shortage of more than 560,000 skilled employees by 2030.

Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition represents 100,000 employers and millions of employees throughout the province. The coalition has been calling for a comprehensive strategy to address the skills shortage.

“The skills shortage is already hurting sectors like tourism, construction and information technology,” said Terry Mundell, president of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association. “It’s vital that business, labour, education and government come together to find solutions before the problem intensifies. We need to ensure that young people, older workers and new Canadians get the skills and training they need and that Ontario depends upon.”

The symposium featured keynote speeches from Hon. John Milloy, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and Len Crispino, the president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Round table discussions were held to gather expertise and advice from participants on three three key questions:

1) What should business be doing to address the skills shortage?
2) What should educators be doing?
3) What should governments be doing?

The input received from the symposium will be used by the coalition to develop strategies to be presented to the McGuinty and Harper governments.

Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition includes the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, the College Student Alliance, Colleges Ontario, CON*NECT, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations, the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario Mining Association, the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, the Power Workers’ Union, Retail Council of Canada, Skills-Canada Ontario, Ontario Environment Industry Association, Ontario General Contractors Association, Greater Toronto Hotel Association, Toronto Financial Services Alliance, Alliance of Ontario Food Processors, and the Ontario Tourism Council.

For more information on the Ontario Workforce Shortage Coalition, please visit:

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For further information:

Darrell Neufeld
Senior Communications Officer
Colleges Ontario
(416) 596-0744, ext. 242