The Great Resignation OR The Great Reskilling

Rachel Sumner

January 7, 2022

For those of us who work in workforce planning and workforce development, reporting from the US about The Great Resignation that they are experiencing (about 43 million people quit jobs from Jan to Nov 2021 – millions more than anything ever seen before) and similar concerns being reported in Canada about talent shortages across multiple sectors might have us believing that our time has come! 

Workforce planning and workforce development are equally critical to answering the question; ‘How are we going to recover from this situation or at least stabilize the labour market?’ Firstly, we need to see employers let go of the mindset that investing in workforce development is a sure way to lose people and begin to understand that it’s actually more likely to help them retain staff. Interviewed recently in the Toronto Star, Travis O’Rourke, president of Hays Canada, shared that,

 “Unfortunately, the company’s 2022 Canada Salary Guide indicates that 44 per cent of employees said their company hadn’t initiated any training to help them develop their skills. […] Employers think that if they upskill employees they’ll leave, so why invest in their own programs?” O’Rourke said. “That’s not a long-term solution however, because people end up leaving anyway for organizations that will invest in them.”

Canada also ‘boasts’ amongst the lowest spending per employee on learning and development of any of the G7 countries and certainly lags behind the US with spending reported in 2018 to be 81 cents compared to every dollar spent by US companies at the time. However, that has actually improved significantly over the decade prior when Canadian companies spent only 56 cents for every dollar spent in the US on learning and development. The trend is headed in the right direction but given the challenges we face with skills shortages in our country we need to be spending on par with our neighbours to the south and ideally a little higher to avoid a talent drain to organizations who are willing to invest in skills development in the US.

According to Deloitte, Canada in October of last year over 30% of businesses were reporting talent shortages. But is this an issue of the number of individuals available for work or rather an issue that those individuals don’t possess the skills needed?  It’s apparent from the workforce planning data that it is in fact both. Canada’s workforce is aging and not being sufficiently replenished either by young Canadians entering their workforce or Canadian newcomers and the demographics themselves indicate this issue is not going to get any better over the next decade or more. Equally, we are hearing from multiple sectors that neither their existing workforce nor external candidates for roles possess the skills they need which is why we suggest that rather than focus our time and energies on resignations in Canada we should be focusing instead on The Great Reskilling.

How do we ensure every Canadian has the skills they need to remain meaningfully employed as the needs of our economy change? If you or your organization would like to learn more about rapid reskilling options, get in touch. We can have you or your employees job ready in three months or less.

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