More than 300 experts set priorities to address skills shortage

(Toronto, May 21, 2008) - More than 300 representatives from business, education, labour and government are meeting today in Toronto to prioritize recommendations to help governments develop comprehensive strategies to address the workforce shortage challenge.

“Ontario’s ability to compete in the global economy depends on access to a qualified and available workforce,” said Ian Howcroft, vice-president of the Ontario division of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. “Government, employers and educators must work together to address the immediate need to retrain unemployed workers and the long-term challenge to avert a skills shortage crisis.”

The strategy session is a detailed follow-up to province wide consultations from February and March. At the strategy session today, participants will consider issues such as employment challenges for under-represented groups, modernizing the education system, and strengthening public awareness of different career opportunities. The workforce shortage coalition’s final report to governments will be based on feedback from more than 700 individuals and businesses who took part in 10 consultations across the province over the past six months.

The keynote speakers at the session today are Training, Colleges and Universities Minister John Milloy, and Ross Laver, the vice-president of policy and communications for the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.

The province faces immediate pressures to retrain people who have lost their jobs in the changing economy, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing and forestry. At the same time, some sectors are struggling to find qualified people, and this challenge will intensify as the 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.

The federal and provincial governments have recognized the significance of the skills shortage challenge. The strategy session today will develop recommendations that help governments address the issue in a meaningful way.

“It is essential that skills strategies are developed as quickly as possible,” said Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. “There are urgent pressures to help laid-off workers and to put steps in place to strengthen Ontario’s position over the longer term.”

Ontario’s Workforce Shortage Coalition represents more than 100,000 employers and millions of employees throughout the province. To learn more about the coalition’s work, please visit

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, the Ontario Tourism Council and the Ontario Marine Operators Association.

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