The need for skilled workers in both Ontario and Canada has never been more urgent. Luckily, our sector’s strength is its readiness to supply skilled workers quickly and efficiently to respond to labour shortages – a feature that positions career colleges as the solution to the current labour crisis.
A survey by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters found that 42 per cent of their member companies had lost contracts or paid late delivery penalties because they lacked skilled workers. In Ontario alone, 400 000 jobs are going unfilled, with tens of thousands of those being in the skilled trades. With one in three workers in the skilled trades over the age of 55, engaging youth and training more workers is crucial to keep the economy rolling.
The Pandemic’s strain on the healthcare system and front line healthcare workers allowed our sector to demonstrate its agility by pivoting to address the needs of the day.With a 60% increase in job vacancies reported by Stats Canada between 2019 and 2021, career colleges in Ontario were able to adapt their programming and course offerings to effectively train approximately 3,000 Personal Support Workers (PSW) in 2021 and early 2022, positioning PSW training as the second largest enrolment category in our province’s career colleges.
Of those enrolled, 69% are women, 57% are over the age of 30 and just over half are first-generation immigrants. Not only does this highlight our sector’s predisposition to serve those who traditionally face barriers to success in the labour market or belong to historically excluded groups, but also highlights the imminent role that women play in addressing labour shortages in the skilled trades province-wide.
Earlier this month, we were pleased to attend the Ontario Government’s Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development Monte McNaughton’s announcement regarding the government’s focus on addressing these province-wide skilled worker shortages by engaging more youth and impressing upon them the value that these workers bring to society at large. We welcome this government’s push to highlight the value of skilled trades, and we look forward to working with all relevant ministries on finding ways to harness the incredible potential of our sector to get Ontario working again.