Employers in Ontario perceive skill mismatch as a key reason for unfilled job vacancies. What are the main reasons for the skill mismatch?
There seems to be a growing understanding of the value of private and education sectors working together in the area of education to employment – but how do we make that happen? What do we need to do?
I would like to begin by offering some clarification in understanding that there are two parts to skills. One part is the technical skills shortage, for example, computers or science. The business community is telling us that there are vacancies in these areas. The other part is the generic skills. Not only do people come to work with technical skills but they also come with strong generic skills such as reading, writing, communicating, analyzing and collaborating. For youth who are looking ahead to their future, they need to keep in mind both the technical skills in demand and also the generic skills.
The other reality is that our labour market information is not very good. This means that even when youth want to be proactive and plan ahead, this is difficult without good data. The data is missing both in terms of where the jobs might be in the future and what the education and training pathways are for jobs in the future.
This data would be important as well for businesses. Where do businesses see their companies going in the future and how will this impact the jobs and careers that will be available? We don’t have a way of collecting and disseminating this kind of information. A lot of the data we have now is a bit antiquated. It doesn’t help either industry or individuals navigating a complex job market.
It is increasingly getting complex to make predictions of what the jobs might be in the future and what the education and training pathways are for jobs. Things are changing a lot more rapidly than they have in the past – work is changing, and career paths are changing. We are getting more and more disruptive technologies that are influencing jobs and job opportunities. The economic models are shifting from a life of employment to contract work. It’s tough. Yes there is a skill shortage but it’s a far more complex problem than what appears at the surface.
It is especially challenging in the light of disruptive technologies, which will influence multiple industries. For example driverless vehicles will impact a variety of domains not just transportation, but insurance, policing, elder care, homes. Or 3D manufacturing, just imagine twenty years from now when you want something, and instead of going to a store you download a program and pop it into your 3D unit.
So you can only imagine the challenges facing a 12-14 year old who is trying to think about their future and they look to their parents who might have outmoded models of careers that would be inaccurate. Youth may be advised to do things that are not in their best interest or the workforce’s.
How to encourage private and education sectors to work together in the area of education to employment is a difficult question. We have talked about improving public- private partnerships for decades. Certainly, The Learning Partnership has gone a long way to create realities in this domain. There is still a huge task in front of us. Ultimately, the private sector needs to realize they have a major role to play in crafting the future. In order to do that the private sector needs to get more actively involved in the education sector whether that is as simple as sitting on an advisory board or as complex as creating internship and co-op placements. They need to find a way of interfacing with the community in order for the youth to make decisions that are in the best interest of the private sector. I hope that this reality will sink in and we will see more involvement.
Dr. Rick Miner is President of Miner and Miner Ltd., a management consulting firm that specializes in issues related to labour force demand, jobs of the future, Human Resource Management and post-secondary education. He has released four reports on Canada’s Labour Market future with the most recent one (2014) being: The Great Canadian Skills Mismatch: People Without Jobs Jobs Without People and MORE.