Media Release from the Federal Ministry of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Whether Canadians are looking for a job, working from home or changing how they work in order to respect public health guidelines, many are facing new challenges as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In order to tackle these challenges, we need to ensure that Canadians have access to the tools they need to learn new skills in growing sectors, help them receive education and accreditation, and connect them to employers and good jobs. That’s why the government has committed to making the largest investment in training for workers in Canadian history.
In keeping with these priorities, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, recently announced the release of the Future Skills Council’s report, “Canada – A Learning Nation: A Skilled, Agile Workforce Ready to Shape the Future”.
The report underlines the importance that the government places on growing a thriving and dynamic workforce where everyone has a chance to succeed. It frames lifelong skills development as key to building a skilled, agile workforce that will fuel Canada’s long-term economic competitiveness and prosperity. These principles align directly with the Speech from the Throne, which aims to:
• create a stronger, more resilient Canada;
• strengthen the middle class; and
• continue creating jobs and building long-term competitiveness with clean growth.
The report identifies five priority areas for building a country that supports ongoing learning; and proposes concrete actions that require participation from all levels of government, private sector, labour, non-profit and Indigenous partners, and educational/training institutions. The five priorities are:
1. Helping Canadians make informed choices
2. Equality of opportunity for lifelong learning
3. Skills development to support Indigenous self-determination
4. New and innovative approaches to skills development and validation
5. Skills development for sustainable futures
The recommendations in the report identify common ground among a diversity of perspectives heard by Council members during engagement activities across many sectors. Together, the recommendations are a clear call to action for all sectors to do their part toward ensuring that Canadian jobseekers, workers, and employers are able to seize emerging opportunities in a rapidly evolving world of work.
“The Future Skills Council’s report highlights the importance of collaboration and innovation across all sectors to build a skilled, agile workforce that is ready and able to shape the future. It is a call to action for all Canadians to continue learning, acquire new skills and create opportunities for all across the country,” said Qualtrough. “Together, we can and will pave a way forward to ensure that our workforce is at the forefront of innovative thinking and action, now and for years to come.”
Thierry Karsenti and Valerie Walker, Co-Chairs of the Future Skills Council, said, “The Council recognizes that creating a world-class workforce – one that is skilled, agile and ready for an inclusive future – means we must have an open mind and willingness to do things differently, to take risks, to embrace technology and to demand better results for Canadians. The path to get there involves collaboration, innovation and transformation. We look forward to championing this report across Canada and seeing the results.”
The Future Skills Council includes a diverse group of representatives from business, labour, education and training, public, Indigenous and non-profit organizations. They were tasked with making recommendations to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion on national and regional priorities related to skills development and training for Canadians. This report is the result of broad engagement activities across Canada and with international and domestic subject matter experts.
The federal government invests close to $7.5 billion annually, across more than 100 distinct programs, to support skills development. It is investing $225 million in Future Skills over four years, and $75 million per year thereafter, to help ensure that programs are future-fit.
The 2020 Survey on Employment and Skills indicates that close to half of Canadian workers expressed worry about themselves or a member of their immediate family finding or keeping a stable, full-time job after the COVID-19 pandemic set in. In the same report, workers said that skills training contributes to their ability to succeed. However, 50 percent of the Canadian labour force say that they have had no employer-delivered skills training in the last five years.
The Future Skills Council’s report sets an ambitious vision of a thriving and dynamic workforce where everyone has a chance to succeed. It prioritizes lifelong skills development as key to building a skilled, agile workforce that is ready to shape the future of our country.
IN A NUTSHELL ...
Priority 1: Help Canadians Make Informed Choices
Jobseekers, workers and employers need easy-to-use and easy-to-access tools that provide reliable information on jobs, skills and training. This would go a long way toward reducing skills gaps that happen in an ever-changing economy. We must take action to:
• use new technologies so individuals can create personalized training plans;
• offer employment counselors and training providers better tools to improve career guidance; and
• engage business, labour, and non-profit organizations to identify transferable skills needed for all jobs.
Priority 2: Equality of Opportunity for Lifelong Learning
Canada needs a more inclusive labour market. Structural and systemic barriers need to be removed so groups such as youth, women, people with disabilities, Black and other racialized individuals and Indigenous peoples can fully participate in skills training and get jobs. We must take action to:
• support employers as they integrate diversity and inclusion in their workforce;
• address the unique needs of Canadians with customized employment and skills support;
• provide additional supports like affordable housing, subsidized childcare, income supports, transportation, funding for training, and tax deductions;
• protect workers’ jobs when they take time off for training; and
• ensure access to high-speed internet and reliable telecommunications.
Priority 3: Skills Development to Support Indigenous Self-Determination
On the path to reconciliation, we have learned that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis organizations are best placed to design and deliver strategies, programs and services for their own people and communities. Skills training and lifelong learning are no different. We must take action to:
• provide culturally-appropriate supports to help Indigenous students, such as mentorship programs;
• support Indigenous entrepreneurs in developing business skills and encourage peer-to-peer learning;
• support skills development for quality jobs in growth areas;
• prioritize access to high-speed internet and reliable telecommunications in rural, northern and remote Indigenous communities; and
• encourage collaboration between non-Indigenous and Indigenous organizations to co-develop recruitment, training and retention strategies.
Priority 4: New and Innovative Approaches to Skills Development and Validation
The workforce of the future will need to meet rapidly changing job demands. Organizations will need to stay up-to-date on new ways to provide training and address workers’ learning needs, while also meeting operational demands. We must take action to:
• encourage greater collaboration between employers, educational institutions and training providers;
• use new technologies to create new ways for workers to learn;
• ensure workers have access to a range of flexible training options;
• support more on-the-job training, and
• create tools that map skills acquired over time through both training and on the job experience.
Priority 5: Skills Development for Sustainable Futures
As we prepare for the jobs of the future, we need to make sure we embrace the opportunities that lie ahead. In an age of emerging technologies and environmental concerns, we must equip communities for change, prepare jobseekers for in-demand jobs and support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We must take action to:
• invest in workforce as part of community development;
• help SMEs to develop and implement training plans with particular focus on digital skills;
• grow capacity in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence; and
• speed up transition to a low-carbon emissions economy and clean technology growth.