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Strategy needed to address the skills shortage

(TORONTO, Jan. 28, 2008) – Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition is urging provincial politicians to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the skills shortage.

“Ontario faces immediate and long-term challenges that threaten our economy and the quality of our services,” said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, one of the organizations in the coalition. “Ontario needs to lead the way in developing a comprehensive strategy to avoid a skills shortage crisis.”

The coalition, which represents more than 100,000 employers and millions of employees, appeared today before the province’s Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to speak to the skills shortage affecting a variety of sectors.

The province’s economy faces serious challenges. There is an urgent need to retrain workers who have been laid off in manufacturing and forestry, while other sectors struggle to find qualified employees. The workforce shortage problems are expected to get worse, due to the retirement of the baby boomers and slower population growth.

Even with strong immigration levels, the Conference Board of Canada estimates Ontario could be short more than 360,000 skilled employees by 2025. This could further escalate to a shortage of more than 560,000 skilled employees by 2030.

Everything from construction to health care, agriculture, mining and home care services will be affected by a shortage of skilled employees.

Government leaders are aware of the challenge. Federal Human Resources and Social Development Minister Monte Solberg has spoken about the skills shortage challenges across Canada, and the Ontario government also acknowledged the challenge in its fall economic update.

The priority now is developing the strategy to address this issue, to ensure there are qualified employees available in all sectors.

“The skills shortage must be a priority for the government and for all political parties,” said David Zurawel, the vice-president of policy and government relations for the Council of Ontario Construction Associations. “We are urging the province to work with business, educators and labour to develop a comprehensive plan to address this challenge before it is too late.”

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.

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For more information:

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