Report Claims Skills Shortage Costs Ontario Billions

Toronto — June 21

The Canadian province of Ontario is losing out on as much as $24.3 billion in economic activity and $3.7 billion in provincial tax revenues annually because employers cannot find people with the skills they need to innovate and grow, according to a Conference Board of Canada report released Friday.

To get a clear picture of employers’ skills needs, the Conference Board conducted the Ontario Employer Skills Survey. More than 1,500 Ontario employers, representing more than 760,000 employees — 13.5 per cent of the workforce — from across the provincial economy, responded to the survey.

Survey results showed that employers most need post-secondary graduates in science, engineering and technology and business and finance. The most widespread needs, according to the survey, are for employees with two- or three-year college diplomas (57 percent), four-year degrees (44 percent) and trades (41 percent).

The negative impact on the Ontario economy goes beyond the issue of skills shortages, however.

Another issue, according to the survey, with economic consequences is skills mismatches in the labor force, individuals whose skills and training are not being fully used in the jobs they have.

The Conference Board estimates that these mismatches cost Ontario’s economy and workers up to $4.1 billion in foregone gross domestic product and $627 million in provincial tax revenues annually. Many post-secondary education graduates have skills and training in sectors with few available jobs. In addition, employers sometimes fail to make the most of their employees’ skills and talents.

Source: Conference Board of Canada