All Posts Tagged With: "Conference Board of Canada"
Big ideas from Switzerland, Tennessee, Israel and Australia
Canada has fallen behind or is at risk of falling behind other countries in education and training if we don’t get our act together. That was a common theme at two conferences last week in Toronto, one hosted by The Conference Board of Canada, which is developing a Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education, and the other by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, a provincial agency that does research and offers policy advice to government. Speakers from several countries offered innovative ideas worth considering. Here are four of the most intriguing.
Switzerland streams into vocations
The Swiss government encourages apprenticeships and, unlike in Canada, 40 per cent of companies take them on. Many high school students are streamed into vocations starting at age 11 or 12 and are in factories or offices getting job experience by 15 or 16. “In Canada, if you have a university degree you’re somebody [but] vocational not so much,” said Urs Obrist, an Embassy of Switzerland expert who spoke at the CBOC conference. In Switzerland, he said, people accept that, “some horses are work horses, some are show jumpers and some are race horses.” However, the system is flexible enough that “late bloomers” can change streams. He pointed out that Switzerland has a very low youth unemployment rate. In 2012, 8.4 per cent of Swiss aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, the second lowest among 33 rich countries. Canada was 12th at 14.3 per cent.
Skills mismatch may mean 1.5 million vacancies by 2016
On a recent February evening, Karl Eve received an emergency call from a restaurant owner in Canmore, Alta. The busy eatery had suddenly found itself with no hot water, even though the basement hot water tanks appeared to be working fine. A plumber with 10 years’ experience, Eve eventually traced the problem to a malfunctioning dishwasher and got the hot water flowing again—much to the owner’s relief.
It’s the sort of detective work Eve says he loves about his job. He also likes that his plumbing business, which he runs with his wife in nearby Exshaw, provides his family with a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. But it was a career he very nearly missed. Never a fan of textbooks, Eve ended up toiling in a southern Ontario gypsum mine after high school. It was only after moving to Alberta years later that he considered a career in the trades. A chance meeting at a church potluck led to a ride-along with a local plumber and, ultimately, an apprenticeship. “I discovered there was a lot to learn, especially when it came to math,” Eve says of his four years of training, which included eight weeks a year in a classroom. “The amount of education was very surprising to me, but in a positive way. I grasped it with both hands, so to speak.”
Eve’s story is more rare than it should be in Canada. Many consider the trades to be low-paying, go-nowhere jobs, if they consider them at all. But it’s a perception not grounded in reality, as Eve’s healthy hourly rate of $90 to $135 suggests. Nor is it one Canada can afford to maintain. Numerous studies warn Canada is facing a massive shortage of skilled workers over the next few decades as millions of baby boomers hit retirement age and exit the workforce.
Help-wanted index jumps 10 per cent
The Conference Board of Canada says the country’s employment prospects are picking up after going through a two-month soft patch.
The think-tank says its help-wanted index for January jumped a strong 10 per cent, with 25 of 27 metro areas posting increases.
The forward looking index suggests that Canada returned to positive job growth in February after shedding 22,000 workers in January.
Why a generation of well-educated Canadians has no future
Melanie Cullins is no pipe dreamer. She chose a vocation that, by unanimous opinion, represented a path to steady employment—teaching English as a second language to the thousands of immigrants pouring into B.C., a good many of whom, the experts predicted, would be making their way to Victoria, where she grew up and wished to make a home. That was back in the early 2000s, when opportunities for the young and industrious appeared unlimited. A rewarding career seemed within reach for all.
Cullins’s degree in applied linguistics was the gold standard of ESL qualifications. But she graduated in the thick of the 2008 financial meltdown, and the entry-level position she imagined would launch her career never materialized. Governments cut back on language transition programs. Resumés piled up in recruitment offices. Her calls to program directors went unanswered. “For me, that was a huge blow,” she says. “I had almost perfect performance reviews from my practicums, but I couldn’t even get an interview. You start to wonder: what’s wrong with me?”
Campus recruiters plan on less hiring, same pay
A survey of 324 Canadian employers shows that they expect post-secondary graduates will still be struggling to find work in 2012.
Recruiters who hire students are projecting 2.9 per cent fewer job offers in 2012 and no increase in starting pay, according to the 2011 Campus Recruitment and Benchmark Survey. The survey was collected on behalf of The Canadian Association of Career Educators and Employers between August 1 and September 26, 2011.
Since then, the economic outlook has worsened. In October, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty cut his growth forecast for 2011 from 2.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent. Earlier this month, TD Economics reduced its forecast for growth in GDP next year from 1.9 to 1.7 per cent due to weakness in Europe that is likely to spread. Scotia Capital is predicting 1.8 per cent growth. That follows last year’s post-recession rebound of 3.2 per cent.