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Businesses divided on skills gap tactics

Survey shows 71% of employers note responsibility to provide training programs but only 29% offer them.


TORONTO – A shortage of skilled workers is the single biggest issue facing Canadian executives in 2014 but employers are split on how to address the skills gap, according to a new survey by the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC).

The telephone survey of 500 Canadian business leaders conducted by Environics Research Group shows the shortage of skilled workers is a challenge for 68% of businesses.

Most executives (72%) perceive a gap between the skills they are looking for, and what most jobseekers have. More than one in three businesses feel that gap has grown.

There is an even split between those who feel the best way to close the gap is for employers to provide more training, and those who say it is prospective employees who should better prepare themselves for the labour market (43%).

Seventy-per cent of respondents say finding a skilled employee is not an easy task. For businesses located outside of Ontario, that challenge is even greater and, as a result, many rely on referrals from current employees and internal promotions to fill positions.

Nearly two-thirds would hire an employee with the right soft skills and provide training on the more technical aspects of the job. Yet 66% have difficulty finding candidates with the soft skills they’re looking for – a positive attitude, good communication ability and a strong work ethic.

Although willingness to provide training is high, 64% are concerned about losing employees after investing in training.

Canadian executives were also asked about their organizations’ efforts to recruit candidates from under-represented groups, such as visible minorities, aboriginal people, people with disabilities and new Canadians. Half (50%) say that this is not something in which they invest a great deal of time or effort.