Ontario…we have a problem! A Skills Signaling Problem.

Rachel Sumner

June 21, 2021

Ontario…… we have a real skills signalling problem.
Ontario Tech Talent, or TALENT as we have become known, was created with a singular vision. A vision to address the job readiness of the graduates and alumni of Ontario Tech University, and to meet the reskilling needs of key employer partners.
As the TALENT team began to explore the issue of job readiness by talking to those impacted―students, alumni, faculty of the institution, employers and professional associations―we came to realize that job readiness is in fact a symptom of other deeper problems in the labour market; the first of which we’ve come to describe as skills signalling.
We heard time and time again from students and alumni that one of the reasons they were unable to develop the skills that employers need is because they didn’t definitively know the skills that were needed and were hesitant to invest in skills development if they weren’t confident about a return on investment.
We asked them how they currently gathered information about the skills needed. Current students might develop their skills through the course of their degree program, not truly knowing if those skills are what’s required in the job market. The most consistent response was that they looked at job postings, tried to analyze the requirements, and then compare it to the skills they already possess.
Now, for any of us that has ever had to respond to a job posting or even write one we know that ‘not all job postings are created equal’! Some do a reasonable job at listing the skills required but offer little in terms of the competency level required. Without a commonly understood and adopted skills and competency framework though, much of this is subjective. For example, what is the difference between being highly competent in leadership skills vs possessing intermediate competency?
Do you see what we mean? We have a real skills signalling problem.
This is not just true for undergraduates or new grads. As we spoke to employees with years of experience they also shared that they really weren’t sure how to strengthen their skills; where to invest their limited time and money to ensure they were going to avoid job displacement and/or secure a new opportunity, either within their current organization or if looking elsewhere.
We believe there are three necessary steps to resolving this significant labour market challenge:
  1. Bring employers together to co-design a skills and competency framework for their sector
  2. Employers write job postings using the skills and competency framework
  3. Post-secondary education designs courses and programs using the skills and competency framework
So, if you’re looking to explore and develop the high demand skills currently needed by employers we’ve got you covered. Check out the skills that are in highest demand and improve your job readiness in just six weeks!
We are also currently recruiting organizations in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and energy who would like to contribute to the co-design of a skills and competency framework for their sector. Interested in learning more? Contact us today!

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