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Posted February 21, 2013

Business Skills

Canadian Chamber offers roadmap to close small business skills gap

OTTAWA - Yesterday, as part of its ongoing skills initiative, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce unveiled the findings of its Symposium on Skills and Small Business held on November 14, 2012.

From the outset of the Canadian Chamber's skills project, it has been clear Canada must upgrade the skills of its domestic workforce, including the essential skills that are critical for improved training outcomes and productivity growth. Statistics Canada estimates that 55 per cent of the differences in economic growth between OECD countries can be explained by differences in the average skill levels between countries. Since small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise half of the employment in the private sector, their training and upskilling challenges require attention.

"SMEs are the backbone of communities all across Canada; however, it's not easy for them to organize and finance training of existing employees," said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. "The great challenge for government, and for us at the Canadian Chamber, is to decide how to help SMEs take on this important task," he added.

Today's report proposes actions to encourage increased skills development in SMEs, makes policy recommendations for all stakeholders and highlights best practices in alleviating skills pressures. The report reflects the contributions of symposium participants, including SME owners and managers from seven provinces, and stakeholders from government, academia, and the learning and training communities.

No nationwide skills strategy would be complete without addressing the skills gap felt keenly by SMEs. The recommendations stemming from the symposium will help focus the Canadian Chamber's advocacy on behalf of SMEs as they tackle their key business needs. Today's report also includes a comprehensive roadmap for SMEs and chambers of commerce to address skills and training challenges.

The symposium project was made possible with funding support from the government of Canada's Office of Literacy and Essential Skills.

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