Shocking forty per cent of Canadian employees lack basic skills

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A large percentage of employees are under-equipped to do their jobs and it’s hurting Canada’s productivity – luckily, the solution is well within reach, suggests one new report.

The Canada West Foundation says 40 per cent of employees could perform better if they improved on basic skills – such as math, reading, and writing – all of which can be provided relatively easily by employers.

“If every worker had the essential skills needed to do their jobs really well, productivity and competitiveness in the West would soar,” argue the study’s authors Janet Lane and Scott Murray.

The foundation stressed that the missing skills are not advanced or necessarily technical in nature but that many workers are still held back by a lack of ability in things like basic computer skills, literacy, numeracy, and even working with others or as part of a team.

High-school leavers and uni grads alike

The report reveals that roughly half of people who didn’t finish high school are missing such essential skills but they’re not the only ones who could do with some extra tutoring.

Worryingly, even highly-educated employees are missing vital skills, with approximately 30 per cent of university graduates lacking basic skills that would help them be better at their jobs.

The report also says immigrants have skills shortages of between 10 to 16 per cent higher than the non-immigrant population.

No industry exempt

Employers are wrong if they think the data doesn’t apply to their own industry, warn Lane and Murray.

“Every sector of the economy could improve its productivity by helping its workers increase essential skills,” they say, adding that shortages are present across occupations and job types in all sectors.

“They exist in many demographic groups, vary by occupation and province, and average 40 per cent,” they confirm.

Building essential skills

Now, the study’s authors are urging employers to offer basic skills training to their workers – for the sake of Canada’s economy and their own companies.

“Building these essential skills would improve the capacity of workers to do their jobs well and provide a much needed boost to labour productivity,” they say.
 
  • sue on 2015-06-02 1:36:03 PM

    This group only represents the four west provinces from BC to Manitoba, I think they have empowered themselves as reporting their conclusions way beyond their western representation and should not write about Canada and its workforce as a whole. The study is incomplete for the broader context to "Canada" - could actually do much damage to the average Canadian seeking work if potental captial ventures see this as a road block to hiring competent employees in Canada. HRM is being irresponsible to publish this article.

  • Tom from Burnaby BC on 2015-06-02 1:38:10 PM

    this article must be sent to every provincial premier and prime minister in canada.

    most government officials look at this issue as a economic recession problem.

    governments at all levels need to do more to help job clubs promotion to companies in order to seek out help with training.

    Hopefully the third quarter job club will open an office in lower mainland and allow retired HR professionals to assist to help people/companies addressing skills shortage and upgrading opportunities for older and young workers.

    One sure way to get this project going.

  • Ann on 2015-06-02 1:50:13 PM

    This is a shocking statistic and points to the failure of our basic educational system. Our provincial government spends more on education than healthcare. We, the taxpayers, are paying for basic literacy and numeracy. Business should be pressing government for better accountability in this regard. My sometimes sullen teenager often says she's learning nothing useful at school and it appears that her comment may have more than some truth to it.

  • Leslie on 2015-06-03 8:22:08 PM

    An international study confirms these numbers. In parts of Canada the rate is closer to 60%. https://drsaraheaton.wordpress.com/tag/ialls/
    Clearly the teaching methods we currently use do not match the learning needs of half our students. One size does not fit all.

  • AndoDoug on 2016-04-04 12:40:36 AM

    This is not about teaching methods per se, it's about managing the needs of those who fall behind

  • Chevy on 2016-04-09 8:54:36 PM

    we have been saying this for years but a lot of articles said we were all wrong?

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