A decade after Canada’s manufacturing sector took a huge hit resulting in many young workers being steered clear of skilled trades’ careers, the skills gap has shown few signs of narrowing.
Today, technology is outpacing industry’s ability to bring new workers online with the skills and training required in a globally competitive marketplace, according to Justin Falconer, senior director of Workforce WindsorEssex.
“It’s leaving employers without workers and workers without employment,” said Falconer. “With many kids steered away from manufacturing by parents who wanted their children to be doctors, lawyers, nurses or any of a number of professions, the skills gap remains a problem for the manufacturing sector.”
As a result, Falconer’s organization is partnering with the WEtech Alliance to stage a Future of Work symposium on March 12 at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts.
The event is designed to bring together employers, economic development, academia and community stakeholders.
“This is a great opportunity to get the community together to discuss how careers and workplaces are being redefined and the potential implications for communities like Windsor-Essex. At the end of the day, no organization, academic institution, or government can tackle this alone.” said Yvonne Pilon.
Keynote speaker will be Simon Chan, vice-president of talent, academy and future of work at Communitech, a high-tech incubator in Kitchener.
“It’s important to bring all the stakeholders together because you have to look at the entire community and what it has to offer,” said Chan. “To have a health community, you have to develop, attract and retain talent.”
And that means making sure your community has attractive, well-paying jobs for spouses, quality entertainment, a strong school system and post-secondary institutions offering courses to train graduates in new fields of endeavor.
Falconer said his organization’s mission to anticipate current and future labour market needs so that young workers and students can be steered in the right direction.
“Change is happening more rapidly today than at any point in history and it’s very difficult for young people to anticipate those needs,” said Falconer. “Our role also includes trying to make sure we have the talent in this region to attract new employers because companies locate where the talent is located.”
Falconer added that the Windsor-Essex region needs to do a better job of retaining university graduates than it has in the past. Over a five-year period beginning in 2010, Falconer said the region lost three university graduates for every two it gained.
“University graduates are the most mobile people in the workforce and we need to do a better job of retaining them,” he said.
Chan said that more training needs to be offered to those forced to seek career changes because their former jobs either don’t exist anymore or have changed dramatically.
“We need to promote co-ops and apprenticeships, help mid-career workers with continuous learning opportunities and assist workers in adjusting to changing expectations in the workplace,” said Chan.
Falconer said that where the future of work initiative goes next largely depends upon the buy-in from employers and community stakeholders and to what extent they want to be involved in solving the problems facing both employers and employees.
“Technological changes are growing exponentially and it’s to everyone’s advantage to make sure we have a workforce with the right skills to fill the jobs of the future,” said Falconer.
The event is scheduled for March 12th from 8-10am with a leadership roundtable to follow. Registration is FREE thanks to the support of WEtech Alliance, Canadian Digital Media Network and Baker Tilly Windsor LLP.
REGISTER HERE. Seating is limited.