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Skills GapTraining Employers Need to Take Responsibility for the Future of Their Employees and Business

After writing about the issue, “Where are we going to find future skilled employees? This is my plan.” I received quite a few emails; many were very positive and others directed me to similar articles on the same subject.

One of the articles talked about what they refer to as a “skills gap.” There are approximately 1.3 million unemployed Canadians and 200,000 unfilled jobs. This indicates that none of the 1.3 million people are qualified for these jobs. I find this very distressing.

It went on to mention, “Business owners often admit that they are in the business of making money, not training workers.” My response to this article follows.

In regards to your blog, a number of items make my blood boil. It states we have 1.3 million unemployed Canadians and 200,000 unfilled jobs. What seems to be addressed as a possible solution is to increase immigration of those that are presently trained and skilled. I, myself, am an immigrant but this solution is over the top. What are we thinking? We are ignoring the real problem, which is the lack of proper training within our own country.

It’s easy to blame the government and educational institutions, but I think employers should be brought into the spotlight and share the blame. I reject the argument that employers are just in the business of making money, and are not responsible for training workers. All businesses have capital plans and budgets for future investments to sustain growth and become competitive. When it comes to investment in human capital however, the majority of businesses rely on the government and educational institutions as their only resource. This is absolutely wrong!

One the main reasons businesses are not taking the lead on training from within, and are not making that investment, is because they believe employees will leave immediately after for a better offer. This, however, gives absolutely no credibility to the employees, many whom are very loyal to a good company, especially one who is willing to invest in their future. I truly believe the attitude about not training employees comes from the KGB/CIA era. In this world, everything of value was stolen and the mentality was born, “Why train somebody if they are going to be stolen afterwards?”

I often get the feeling that many Canadian companies act as though they have no long-term plan. Long-term planning requires businesses to invest in employee training, so they have ability to meet job demands of the future. If businesses invested more in training, Canada would not have a skills shortage and unemployment rates would be lower. Government and educational institutions should assist with these actions, but they are not solely responsible.

I also believe money should be put into the retraining of qualified unemployed workers, including older workers. Older workers are especially vulnerable since many find themselves in industries that have collapsed or been displaced by new technologies, and they require retraining in order to transition. Older employees often have a lot of experience to bring to an organization and can really help the businesses they work for succeed.

The solution seems very clear, but the lack of will from the business community makes it hard. There is an elephant in the room that no one wants to touch. It will never go away if it’s not addressed and really, the solution is simple, a fearless investment in our people.