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Canada is moving to address a national problem—inadequate supplies of the talent needed to secure Canadian businesses’ competitiveness as well as the country’s overall prosperity.
In fact, the gap was a prime area of focus in the 2013 Canadian federal budget, which announced the new Canada Job Grant to help ensure access to training for jobs in high-demand fields for nearly 130,000 Canadians each year. Indeed, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce ranks the skills crisis at the very top of the 10 barriers to improved Canadian competitiveness.
View the Infographic highlights of the report.
Read Solving the Skills Paradox: Seven Ways to Close Your Critical Skills Gaps—A Canadian Perspective.
The shortage of skilled workers in Canada is worsening as new jobs requiring more complex capabilities emerge across industries; as educational programs lag behind industry skill needs; and as baby boomers begin to retire. And the problem cuts across the business landscape—from manufacturing, oil and gas, and hospitality personnel to registered nurses, financial services professionals and retail workers.
Government agencies and educational institutions are taking steps to address the skills gap. But to remain competitive on the international stage, Canadian businesses cannot afford to wait for legislation and further federal action to deliver results. Why? Companies’ growth and revenue are at stake.
In a recent Accenture survey of department executives from large Canadian companies, 59 percent of respondents expressed concern regarding the availability of needed skills in their organization over the next two years:
Survey participants recognize that the largest impacts of the skills shortage include loss of revenue, delays in development of new products and services and eroded customer satisfaction.
Respondents identified increased stress on employees as a disturbing outcome of skills shortfalls. Stress can jeopardize workforce engagement, and a decline in engagement can damage a company’s bottom line.
Canadian companies must compete for scarce talent with businesses in other countries that are experiencing similar skills shortages—an Accenture survey of European decision makers found 43 percent of respondents reported facing at least a moderate shortage of required skills.
Specifically, across a number of skills deemed critical to future success, Europe is experiencing notable gaps, including international business skills, general management and high-end analytical skills.
Only 36 percent of respondents say they have the skills needed for today and for the next one to two years. The skills shortage constitutes a national challenge: organizations that fail to formulate and execute strategies for tackling it now will lose out to savvier competitors, potentially jeopardizing Canada’s ability to remain globally competitive.
Solving Canada’s skills gap challenge will not be easy, but Canadian companies cannot afford to ignore the problem. Those that effectively deploy the levers of reinvention, reevaluation, recruitment, realignment and collaboration will stand the best possible chance of attracting and retaining the talent they need to grow their businesses and to compete on the domestic and international stage. In so doing, such companies will contribute toward Canada’s overall prosperity and global competitiveness.
Accenture’s experience working with Canadian companies over the last 25 years suggests the following five levers to help companies begin closing the skills gap:
Reinvent—Consider different ways to run your business, including developing flexible operating models, organizational structures and career paths centered on skills rather than business functions.
Reevaluate—Examine in-house talent with fresh eyes, identifying the skills you already have within your organization to seek broad capabilities that do not necessarily show up as key words on your employees’ resumes or job descriptions.
Recruit—Resist the urge to hold out for the “perfect” match before filling a job vacancy. Instead, think competencies and “developable fit.” Seek employees who demonstrate a capacity to learn, who fit with the company’s culture and who possess broad competencies such as the ability to be entrepreneurial or detail oriented. Then develop and use internal training programs to help them acquire or strengthen the specific skills they need for the job.
Realign—Take skilled workers who are in low demand in one industry and put them to work in industries where demand for their talents is high and where reskilling can help make them a good match for open jobs.
Collaborate—Work with other industry players, educational institutions and third-party service providers to build a pool of skilled workers and to share the costs and risks of establishing training programs.
April 10, 2013
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