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Posted November 15, 2012


Canada's Skills Shortage and Literacy Challenge Presentation Today

Waterloo Region - Skills shortages occur at all levels from entry-level positions (essential skills) to high-skilled professions and trades. Craig Alexander, Senior Vice President, Chief Economist at TD Bank Financial Group has been examining this issue for several years especially its affects on productivity in Canada. “In today’s ever-changing and skills-based economy, robust literacy is a must.”

The volume of adults with complex language, literacy and employability needs is growing in Ontario. In the 2008 Reading the Future Report, the Canadian Council on Learning predicted that: “As a result of population growth, Canada will see a 25% increase in the number of adults with low literacy [and essential skills], from almost 12 million to a total of 15,029,000 adults.” Ontario will experience a 50% growth in the number of adults with low-level essential skills due to high rates of projected population growth. These adults will include Canadian born adults and immigrants. In Ontario, 22% of adults have less than a Grade 12 diploma and in WaterlooRegion it is 24%. We need to expand adult essential skills training in Waterloo Region. From January to October 2012, approximately 160 adults per month waited each month to enter Literacy and Essential Skills programs in our region.

In the February 2010 report, People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People, Dr. Rick Miner outlined the extent of the skills shortage issue. “This crisis arises from the intersection of two mega-trends: an aging population and an emerging knowledge economy.” “With the emergence of our knowledge economy, the proportion of the labour force requiring some form of education or training beyond high school will increase dramatically.” “[By] 2031 we will need 77% of our workforce to have post-secondary credentials (apprenticeship, university, college, industry, professional).” On the Ontario Chamber of Commerce website, the organization actively encourages the need for a “world class education system” in Ontario “to build the skill sets necessary for the knowledge economy”. “[A system] that allows all regions to provide accessible, affordable and quality education for all Ontarians in every stage of life.” It goes on to suggest that government must “better integrate workplace skills (from reading and writing to technological literacy) into the education continuum through greater support for experiential learning and workforce training”.

"In Waterloo Region, there is a strong and successful network of Literacy and Essential Skills programs that are members of Project READ Literacy Network. We are ready to work with business and labour to address our local skills shortages." - Anne Ramsay, Executive Network Director, Project READ Literacy Network Waterloo-Wellington

Project READ Literacy Network is pleased to be working with our partners, the Greater K-W Chamber of Commerce, Immigration Partnership and University of Waterloo to bring this informative presentation to our community. It is an opportunity to hear some clear facts about skills shortages in our community.

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