A shortage of skilled workers is the biggest challenge many Canadian businesses face today, Employment Minister Jason Kenney told a skills summit Wednesday, warning it could also jeopardize Canada's economic development in the future.
The problem would continue to grow as the population ages, Kenney told the one-day conference, which brought together stakeholders to discuss the labour market, employee training and those under-represented in the labour force.
Currently 30 per cent of the skilled trade workers in Canada are baby boomers, Kenney said, adding that they will soon retire.
"They are going to take with them a lifetime of knowledge and skill," he said.
It's necessary that an "informed national discussion" take place about the condition of Canada's labour market, in order to address future skills gaps, Kenney said.
"We can acknowledge that we have inadequate labour market information and we need to do a fundamentally better job of getting granular information by region and industry," he said.Coming from a minister of the government that has dismantled the ability of Statistics Canada to even perform an accurate, useful census of Canadians, that's almost funny - if it wasn't so tragic.
Of course, the Harper Conservatives don't like university educated people as a whole. There's a reason for this: people with a liberal arts based education don't typically vote conservative. So, they've been quietly rejigging the funding for federal research grants (which are an important part of university funding) for several years.
Adjusted for inflation, granting council funding has been in serious decline since 2007-08. Funding for SSHRC has fallen by over 10 per cent in real dollars, while core support for NSERC and CIHR are down 6.4 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively. Support for the indirect costs of research has declined by 7.9 per cent. Overall federal support for the granting councils is down 7.5 per cent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2007-08.There's more. Not only has the government been quietly reducing the amount of funding it makes available for basic research, they have been changing NSERC's focus to "applied research":
"Collaboration between government, applied researchers and the private sector is vital to building an innovative economy," said Minister Goodyear. "The College and Community Innovation Program supports research collaborations between companies and colleges. It illustrates the importance our government places on creating the conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive in this country."