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July 7, 2003
Toronto faces labour shortages by the end of the decade
  
Toronto's economy is well positioned for growth as a producer of
knowledge-based goods and services, but growth will be constrained unless the
city deals with serious labour shortages expected by the end of the decade. To
resolve the shortfalls, more work needs to be done to attract highly skilled
immigrants to Toronto, to establish the necessary supports for the smooth
integration of immigrants into the labour force, and to improve Toronto's
skills training system.

These are the main findings of a report presented today to Council's Economic
Development and Parks Committee.

"Toronto has a bright future as a global centre of the knowledge-based economy,
but only if all levels of government, educational and training institutions,
business and labour work more closely to improve the labour force development
system," said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, Chair of the Committee.

The report found that Toronto has a very highly educated, highly skilled and
culturally diverse labour force, providing a strong foundation for future
economic growth. More than three out of four employees in the services sector
have post-secondary education, as does more than half of Toronto's
manufacturing employees.

In the decade ending in 2010, employment in the Toronto region will grow by
400,000 to just over 3 million, representing a 13 per cent increase. There will
be growing demand for labour in all skills groups, and especially in
occupations that require a university degree, community college or
apprenticeship training, or a high school diploma.

However, Toronto will begin losing a major share of its workforce after 2008 as
members of the baby boomers retire. As a result, the Toronto region will face
labour shortages across all occupations and skill groups by the end of the
decade. To make up the shortfalls, Toronto will need to rely on immigration as
a major source of new entrants into the labour force.

To respond to the problem, the report proposes calls on governments,
educational and training institutions, business and labour to work together to
implement changes, including:

· making the training and skills development system more flexible and adaptable
so that it is better able to respond to economic change;
· more involvement by employers in providing skills upgrading, and better links
between employers, educators and trainers;
· improving access to training for youth who do not continue on to college or
university;
· expanding and improving immigrant and migrant resettlement programs in
Toronto;
· reversing federal policies that seek to disperse immigrants away from Toronto
to other places in Canada; and
· creating a more integrated labour force development system in Toronto.

Next steps include consultations to refine and prioritize the recommendations,
and to build partnerships and alliances to implement them. As well, staff of
the City's Economic Development Division are working with the Lakeshore
Community Partnership (formerly the South Etobicoke Regeneration Project) to
undertake a labour force readiness plan for the food industry in Toronto.

The study was made possible through the generous support of the Government of
Canada's Human Resources Development Canada. To view a full copy, visit
http://www.toronto.ca/business.

Backgrounder

Labour Force Readiness Plan

Between May 2001 and November 2002, the City of Toronto's Economic Development
Division undertook intensive research into the readiness of Toronto's labour
force development system. The study was made possible through the generous
support of the Government of Canada's Human Resources Development Canada.

The study concludes that Toronto's economy is well positioned for growth as a
producer of knowledge-based goods and services, but growth will be constrained
unless the city deals with serious labour shortages expected by the end of the
decade. To resolve the shortfalls, more work needs to be done to attract highly
skilled immigrants to Toronto; to establish the necessary supports for the
smooth integration of immigrants into the labour force; and to improve
Toronto's skills training system overall.


Major Finding # 1: Toronto is well positioned internationally as a
knowledge and skills centre


Compared to other cities around the world, Toronto has a very highly educated,
highly skilled and culturally diverse labour force, providing a strong
foundation for continued economic development in the future. Approximately 55
per cent of manufacturing employees have some form of post-secondary education,
and one in five have graduated from university. In the services sector, the
level of education is even more pronounced where almost 76 per cent of
employees have post-secondary education.


Major Finding # 2: Toronto faces labour shortages

The Toronto region will face labour shortages across all occupations and skill
groups by the end of the decade.

By 2010, employment in the Toronto region will have grown by 400,000 to just
over three million, representing a 13 per cent increase over the ten-year
period 2000 to 2010. Employment in the services sector is expected to grow over
the next decade, especially in the areas of business services, and in
occupations associated with quality of life, such as health, social science,
education, government service, art, culture, recreation and sport. Employment
in manufacturing sectors that are heavily represented in Toronto is also
forecast to grow significantly.

However, growth will slow down after 2008 as the Baby Boom generation leaves
the workforce. With approximately one third of the current workforce in the 45
to 64 age bracket, the replacement of the existing workforce will be a critical
issue over the next decade. There will be growing demand for labour in all
skills groups, and especially in occupations that require a university degree,
community college or apprenticeship training, or a high school diploma.

Major Finding # 3: Immigration is a key solution to labour shortages

Immigration is, and will continue to be, an important source of Toronto's
labour supply. Immigration is an important component of the structure of the
labour force in Toronto. The Toronto region continues to attract the largest
share of national immigration -- 42 per cent of the national total in 1998.
Issues regarding settlement support for immigrants, and recognition of their
prior learning and technical upgrading, need to be addressed as soon as
possible for Toronto to be able to take full advantage on the skills of new
immigrants. To address these issues, all levels of government need to work
together in order to:

-- promote a better distribution of resources for immigrant resettlement to
Toronto;
-- improve information in embassies abroad about labour force needs on a
regional basis;
-- improve the assessment and recognition of immigrants' credentials and
educational levels;
-- support immigrants more effectively while they pursue certification and
accreditation in their professions; and
-- modify policies that seek to disperse immigrants away from Toronto to other
places in Canada.

Major Finding # 4: Need to better engage employers

Skilled labour is an important component of Toronto's economic growth.
Regrettably, skills training is not a priority for most Toronto employers,
contrary to the situation in other communities. Fully 61 per cent of surveyed
employers had not invested in the skills development of their workforce in the
last year. This finding emphasizes the need to find new ways to engage Toronto
region businesses in training and skills development. A coordinated effort
involving federal, provincial and municipal governments is required to engage
business in the skills and knowledge development of the labour force.

Major Finding # 5: Need to develop a better training system

The study concludes that all levels of government, business and labour need to
work together to develop a more flexible and adaptable training system that is
responsive to future changes in the economy. These measures might include:
-- working with the provincial government to ensure that apprenticeship
programs are adapted to the emerging needs of the Toronto economy, and that the
City obtains its fair share of new provincial funding for apprenticeship
programs;
-- improving access to training for youth who do not continue on to college or
university;
-- expanding and improving opportunities provided by Ontario Works to ensure
that unemployed workers can access programs and resources for the development
of core skills;
-- bringing employers, trainers and government together to enhance and expand
on-the-job training and upgrading, and in particular to ensure that training is
flexible for employees; and
-- providing employers with better information about various co-op placement
programs.

Media contact:
Brenda Librecz, Executive Director of Economic Development,
416 397-4700



 

 

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